the Affinity Bridge by George Mann
by Frank Martin
What do you get when you combine steam punk, automata, and zombies with Sherlock Holmes and Watson like protagonists?
Pure, unadulterated awesomeness, thats what.
The Affinity Bridge by George Mann is set in an alternate history Victorian London where steam powers everything, automata fly airships, and zombies and a phantom murderer roam the streets of London.
This is the world that we enter to meet Sir Maurice Newbury, an academic specialising in prehistoric religions, an agent in Her Majesty’s service, and his assistant, Veronica Hobbes, who are so similar to Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson except for backstory, that it must have been intentional, right down to Newbury having a substance problem, and a Lestrad in Sir Charles Bainbridge, the Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard.
Within the first fifty or so pages a group of British soldiers are attacked by zombies in India, the aforementioned automata piloted air ship crashes in London, and Mann doesn’t let up from then on.
The focus of the plot is an investigation into the crashed airship and its automaton pilot, both built by Chapman and Villiers, a pair of men who are not what they seem at first. Nor are the murders in Whitechapel that appear to be perpetrated by a glowing blue phantom policeman.
The book is well paced and written, though I did find myself getting lost and forgetting who even major characters were on occasion. About a dozen minor characters that pop in and out of the narrative, and a side story involving Veronica Hobbes mean there’s a lot going on in these scant couple hundred pages, and a lot to keep track of. The book is the first in a series, and especially with the epilogue, its clear that Mann is setting up threads that won’t be resolved until later in the series.
If you’re new to the steampunk genre, there’s nothing overly intimidating here, except for “ground trains” which are essentially motorised carriages, the steampunk influence doesn’t really show itself until the endgame of the book when its revealed that Bainbridge’s cane can turn into what amounts to a supercharged taser.
Overall, if you enjoy a good mystery, and aren’t bored with zombies, I recommend borrowing this one and giving it a read.
If You’d like to buy a copy for yourself you can follow this link: The Affinity Bridge (Newbury & Hobbes Investigations)
(full disclosure: The above is an affiliate link, which means I make pennies off anything you buy after clicking it.)