MR TIMOTHY by Louis Bayard.
"Not so tiny any more, that's a fact."
So begins Louis Bayard's enthralling tale of mischief and murder. The Tiny Tim of Dickens's A Christmas Carol has now grown up, has cast his crutches aside, and has just buried his father. Determined to shed his ties to his benevolent 'Uncle' Ebenezer, he lives by day in a house of ill repute and spends his nights dredging the Thames for dead bodies and the treasures in their pockets.
Suddenly Tim finds himself embroiled in a disturbing mystery. For he comes across the bodies of two dead girls, each seared with a cruel brand. Then he discovers another girl with a similar brand - but she is still alive. Tim immediately realises he must protect her, whatever the cost. With the support of a wonderful cast of characters from Colin the Melodious to Captain Gully, he embarks on a dangerous journey.
Tim's dark adventures take him from the murkiest parts of London's Victorian underworld to the upper echelons of aristocratic society. Through teeming markets, shadowy passages and thick brown fog.
..... From the front, inner cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1): Not so tiny anymore and that's a fact. Nearly five-eight, last I was measured, and closing in on eleven stone.
MEMORABLE MOMENT: Fifteen minutes after I set my head down, a boy with no shirt tried to pick my pocket; fifteen minutes later, he went for my hat; half an hour after that, I found him very calmly unlacing my shoes.
An interesting idea and one I couldn't resist - Tiny Tim, now aged 21, no longer tiny and minus his crutches. Hmm, where will the author take us with this one?
Very Dickens's in tone, this novel also takes place during Advent, the climax occurring on Christmas Eve. We even get to meet, albeit very briefly, 'Uncle' Ebenezer, now lovingly known as Uncle N.
I'm really not sure what I made of this book. Yes, I really enjoyed it but more so because of the nostalgic theme and the characters than the story itself which was interesting but slightly bizarre.
Bizarre? In places, very much so. I mean how else could I describe the scene in which Colin (the Melodious) decides it's a good idea, on being approached by a rather amorous peacock, to react in the following manner "Jumping backwards, he claws open his trousers and, with wildly scrabbling hands, drags out the nearest available evidence of his sex. Holds it there in his hand like a pickled eel, freshly wrapped." Aah but does it work? You'll have to read the book to find out.
No, the nostalgia and characters are definitely what makes this story what it is. We find out what became of Ebenezer Scrooge, whether or not he remained his jovial, Christmas loving self or reverted back to his old ways. Then there's Captain Gully, a truly wonderful character, who on loosing his hand in an accident, has it replaced by a rather different tool to the usual hook. AND Mrs Sharpe (I love the idea of Tiny Tim living in a house of ill repute) who hires Tim in the pretence of him "doing her books" when, in fact, he is there for a very different (totally innocent, I hasten to add) reason.
What is also nice about MR TIMOTHY is the letters that Tim sends to his dead father. They leave the reader with such a warm glow and, at times, a lump in the throat for as Tim explains the writing of these letters "Now I don't believe you can actually speak to them or touch them," (Them being the dead) "but if you can .... if you can convey to them that you're happy and everything's fine .... well then, they needn't worry about you, and they can .... they can rest, can't they? Finish their journey."
MY RATING: 3 out of a possible 5.