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Sunday Scoop

Bellman & Black

By Diane Setterfield


This book was released November 5th of 2013, by Atria publishing company. I received a free copy to read on my kindle from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is Diane Setterfield’s second book. Her first was the Thirteenth Tale. I have not read it yet.


Caught up in a moment of boyhood competition, William Bellman recklessly aims his slingshot at a rook resting on a branch, killing the bird instantly. It is a small but cruel act, and is soon forgotten. By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, William seems to have put the whole incident behind him. It was as if he never killed the thing at all. But rooks don’t forget . . .

Years later, when a stranger mysteriously enters William’s life, his fortunes begin to turn—and the terrible and unforeseen consequences of his past indiscretion take root. In a desperate bid to save the only precious thing he has left, he enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner. Together, they found a decidedly macabre business.

And Bellman & Black is born. (Synopsis from NetGalley)

This book is a bit unusual. It is dark, gloomy and gothic. The setting is Victorian England. Hmm how to describe this book, not a ghost story, not really a mystery. Mr. Bellman makes a deal with a mysterious man when his daughter is about to die, or does he? He is troubled that he can not remember the terms of the deal. When the company he has founded at the suggestion of the mysterious man is thriving and a huge success he begins to wonder when his partner will come to collect. You know that at some point the stranger will make demands. Some mysterious elements, but not a lot of action and suspense.

I felt that the shift between the background story and the information about the rooks was a little choppy. The information about the rooks maybe should have been made into separate chapters or integrated within the story better. One minute I was reading about William and his family and the next minute I was reading about rooks. For me this book was just okay. I give it 3.5 out of 4 stars.


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