Page 45 Review by Publisher Blurb
"The sewer system is a damned maze. He could have emerged anywhere in London . And you don't leave tracks in water - if you can call that water."
"Perhaps he drowned."
"Not him. He's harder to kill than a cockroach. Believe me, I've tried. So there's no one you suspect of passing him the derringer? He had no visitors?"
"None. Not allowed. This is a maximum security building. You could keep crown jewels in here. If Britain had any."
This, of course, is the Tower of London in another of Talbot's skewed worlds. He's rather fond of alternate histories, our Bryan, but whereas THE ADVENTURES OF LUTHER ARKWRIGHT and HEART OF EMPIRE were fiercely political epics, GRANDVILLE and its sequel here, whilst still political, are far brighter entertainments, Christmas annuals for adults starring walking, talking, bi-pedal animals drawn with relish and coloured to perfection with a love of light which manifests itself subtly throughout in streams of sunshine filtering through barred windows or a shimmering, lamp-lit fog at the feet of Montmartre. Although, the serial slaughter of Parisian prostitutes isn't everyone's idea of walk in the Jardin de Tuilleries.
Edward 'Mad Dog' Mastock was once a national hero, a member of the English Resistance struggling against French occupation. But his particular cell turned to extremism, executing acts of terrorism akin to the IRA's without regard to French civilians. Now he's escaped the Tower of London on the very eve of his execution en route to Madame Guillotine and three days before the bulldog Drummond, P.M., is due to be sworn in as British President for life. Within days Mad Dog's in France... and he hates the French. But what does he have against their ladies of the night?
Against the explicit orders of his commander, Brigadier Belier, ex-Inspector LeBrock and his monocled side-kick Ratzi return once more to Grandville (Paris), scene of the last volume's tragedy, where Mastock appears to be hunting for something. What is he after? How did he escape when muzzled, in a straightjacket and fed gruel from a long wooden spoon? A lot of painful personal history will be dredged up during badger LeBrock's big long bluff before the connections are made and the truth behind the Brick Lane Massacre is uncovered.
As always the architecture is monumental, the action impeccably choreographed, and the body language a hoot. The bordello's Madame Riverhorse is a glorious convergence of an overweight brothel mistress and a lipsticked hippopotamus. A certain barking aardvark tries to take credit for the crimes, and if I'd come up with the following during the bulldog's inauguration I'd have been chuckling to myself for days:
"Are you prepared to take the oath, Prime Minister?"
From the classily embossed cover and the very first page looking up at the Tower (guarded by gun-wielding ravens!) as the storm clouds threaten to block out the sun, this second steampunk action thriller canters along at a cracking pace, but Bryan and son Alwyn, who coloured the final three pages, save the finest till last in a real choker of a sun setting slowly over love.