Tag Archives: Oliver Twist

James Benmore: Dodger of the Dials (Review)

Author

James-Benmore-colour-smaller-216x300

James Benmore

James Benmore was born in Kent and currently lives in South-East London. He studied literature at the Open University and has since completed an Mst in Creative Writing from Oxford University.

A prolific short story writer, his short fiction has been published in various anthologies, including All These Little Worlds published by The Fiction Desk and The Failed Novelist’s Anthology 2011. These have received positive reviews from magazines such as Cherwell’s.

Dodger of the Dials  is his second novel.

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Description

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Two years on from the events of Dodger, Jack Dawkins is back as top-sawyer with his own gang of petty thieves from Seven Dials. But crime in London has become a serious business – and when Jack needs protection he soon finds himself out of his depth and facing the gallows for murder.

Review

2013 saw in my (humble) opinion a very daring debut novel, in the form of James Benmore and Dodger ( Review ) . To take on writing the continuing saga of characters originally penned by Charles Dickens had a confidence that bordered either a deep love of the subject or  insanity. Thankfully it was the former and for me the book was a real triumph.

2014 see’s the next step and probably the hardest one, i have heard from a fair few writers that the second book is the hardest, you need to make sure book one isn’t a flash in the pan, you need to grow as a writer, add everything you have learned and come up with a new interesting, credible second idea/ plot. Did he succeed?

Well given i don’t review books i don’t like, damn right he did! But more than that, he did it in style. Dodger of the Dials blows its predecessor away, it retains the audacity of characters and brings even more of the original cast of Dickens Oliver Twist back to life. More importantly it brings growth to the cast, a development of Jack Dawkins (The artful Dodger) it brings Oliver twist himself back, an older grown up more mature Oliver Twist, the meeting of these two old acquaintances is something to behold, emotive, cathartic and inspired.

There are many parts to this book, the crimes, the underworld, the gangs and their Sawyers (leaders), but the real triumph for me was the time spent in Newgate Prison. You could feel the age of the stone, the despair of the men due to hang, the desperation of the inmates. That tempered with the ever present devil may care always optimistic outlook of Jack gave s conflicting yet perfect synchronicity to the time spent there. I was taken from truly humorous moments to cuffing away a tear for the loss of a brave man (that’s me not giving away the plot) .

How James Benmore has managed to mix Dickensian England  and characters with a modern humour and outlook on the world and retain that feeling of the original is a marvel. I wish him all speed to his pen for book three because i’m already desperate to get my hands on it.

Highly recommended

(Parm)

Dodger books

1. Dodger (2013)  Dodger Review
2. Dodger of the Dials (2014)

DodgerDodger of the Dials

 

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Filed under Crime, Historical Fiction, James Benmore

James Benmore: Dodger (Review)

James Benmore

James-Benmore-colour-smaller-216x300

James Benmore was born in Kent and currently lives in South-East London. He studied literature at the Open University and has since completed an Mst in Creative Writing from Oxford University.

A prolific short story writer, his short fiction has been published in various anthologies, including All These Little Worlds published by The Fiction Desk and The Failed Novelist’s Anthology 2011. These have received positive reviews from magazines such as Cherwell’s.

Dodger is his first novel.

dodger

Book description

London, 1850s.

After five years in an Australian penal colony, the Artful Dodger returns to London in search of a hidden fortune. Unaware of the fate that befell Twist, Fagin and Sikes, Dodger revisits the criminal underworld of Dickensian London to seek out his old comrades, any of whom might possess the key to the treasure.

He finds the city a changed place from his youth: with law and order upheld by a new police force, Fagin gone to the gallows, his old gang scattered and danger around every corner.

Review

This is one of those books that should not need too much advertising or blurb, at least it should not for anyone who loves reading. We are after all talking about a sequel to one of the all time great stories “Oliver Twist”, a story from the great Charles Dickens.

A debut writer taking on something like this might be considered, arrogant, audacious, possibly even career suicide. But the fact that Heron are publishing it, means that there is something there.

So first impressions; The cover art, personally I think its fantastic, it’s what drew me to the book immediately (well that and im a sucker for a debut novel) Then the concept, the return of the artful dodger, the return of a boy transported to the colonies (australia) for stealing. (maybe we need a new place to transport the thugs and thief’s of today?), how has he returned? is he reformed?

The Dodger is back and he has an agenda. Given a pardon by a disreputable peer of the realm and a mission to fulfil with his ever-present watcher the aboriginal Warrigal. We get to find out the fate of many of the characters in Oliver twist and also meet up with the members of Fagin’s gang who are still living the life of the thief, while our rascal The Dodger looks for the Jakkapoor Stone, a Jewel of value, and ominous history.

Like in life sometimes its best not to go back, not all reunions are sweet, and some are dangerous. Old friendships are reforged, some are forver consigned to history and in the case of Ruby some friendships turn to love for our young Dodger.

So can Benmore write? I’m happy to say yes he can, but if you are looking for the deep dark dank of Victorian London then you wont find it here, because even though Benmore doesn’t hide the filth and poverty of London, its seen through the eyes of the Artful Dodger, and ole artful loves his London, so even filth has a pink rosy tint to it.

After reading the book the first thought that struck me was that this would make an excellent saturday evening TV series. Something to replace a show like Merlin or Dr Who. A great fun wholesome family TV show. I’m not sure if that is the intent of the author, but hidden in amongst the tale of an almost irredeemable thief are morals, and friendships and honour. There is plenty of depth and emotion, something for everyone. I don’t think there is even an age or gender group for this book, from Young Adult to grandparent, there is something in this story for all to love.

I really recommend this book to you all. and I look forward to what ever James Benmore writes next.

(Parm)

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Filed under Crime, Historical Fiction