Item description for Man's Illegal Life (George Man Mysteries) by Keith Heller...
London in the early 18th century is one of the most dangerous cities in the world -- a status helped along by the lack of any organized police force. Instead, peacekeeping duties fall on the shoulders of "parish watchmen" like George Man, who spends his nights patrolling the seedy streets. After years of tangling with thieves and whores and cutthroats, he ought to be inured to the worst the city can offer up. But then he stumbles on the emaciated corpse of a notorious miser, tied to a chair and left to starve to death in a boarded-up building. It isn't the murder that disturbs Man's sleep but the method: Just 50 years earlier, the Great Plague had devastated London, and its victims -- and their families -- were similarly sealed in their homes to die. The Plague has recently been rumored to have re-emerged in France, and it could (perish the thought!) have leapt the Channel: Was the miser's murder a frantic attempt to stave off another epidemic? Or is a particularly devious criminal mind at work?
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Keith Heller, born in Moorhead, Minnesota, in 1949, has written four previous novels. He has taught English in the United States, Japan, Madrid, and Argentina. He currently lives in California, where he writes full time. His fiction has been published in numerous literary journals. Heller has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize anthology and was a finalist for the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction.
Reviews - What do customers think about Man's Illegal Life (George Man Mysteries)?
Wonderful historical mystery Sep 27, 2005
Heller's description of early 18th century London is fantastic--full of rich detail. The atmosphere of a city at a time when the plague was still a very real threat is eerily depicted. Man makes a great early version of the noir PI with his single-minded, strong & silent, clever way of tracking down the guilty. Not only a good mystery, but just a plain old good read!
Chilling in more ways than one! Nov 24, 2001
I came across this book a few years ago in my local library. It was so well-written that I borrowed it again and again. Eventually I found it on this site and bought it. Heller's atmospheric descriptions of 18th century London's autumn-into-winter kept me psychologically refreshed during summer heat waves! But, the story's a strange one which kept me re-reading it over and over. George Man's discovery of the real motive behind Stannard's death is a slow process but, the book is not long and is very readable. The characters are well sketched, but, my only quibble is that Heller doesn't describe the characters enough. What George Man might look like is left to your imagination. One has to remind oneself that all this takes place in the 1700's -- there is no mention of periwigs, etc. to remind you. Heller is much better at making us see and feel the cold and rainy exterior scenes in which a night watchman must endure than describing him. This novel would've made a good hour's worth of television worthy of PBS' "Mystery" series.