Reviewed by Shaun Howells
What do you say about Terry Pratchet's latest attempt to swoon us into his latest efforts, having moved away Discworld books… Can you ever call anything written by Pratchet an "effort"? To many, his writing is effortless in its genius and I quite agree, but I must admit I think my love affair with Pratchett may have just hit the rocks with…. "Dodger".
London, city of squalor and poverty, with a few enclaves of the well off and privileged. A city where life is cheap, and death even cheaper. In fact it is often free, if one treads the wrong streets.
Dodger is a sewer rat who scavenges this great city. He is a geezer, known everywhere and respected mostly. Everyone knows Dodger, yet ask and they have never seen nor heard of him. A thief, sometimes, but mostly he tidies up and picks up the things that others have 'dropped'.
A storm raging above the sewers, yet through the storm he hears a scream from a young girl and so he goes to her rescue. But this is more than just any girl being attacked by men; that is commonplace in Dodger's city. This is More! This is Important. And so begins an adventure that will take Dodger from scavenging in sewers to the houses of the great and good. And, in some cases, the not so good.
A chance meeting with Charlie Dickens puts Dodger on a course that will change his life forever. And if not very careful, with a dead finality. The story will tell you.
There are flashes of the old master there, in some of the asides and mutterings, but in general it is quite different to his Discworld books.
The book is funny, thrilling and oddly romantic. I can't say much more, other than to say I thought it well worth reading. Though, for people of whom are less enchanted by Terry Pratcher, this book, its writing style and its quirkiness are unlikely to change your mind.
Available to buy from Random House here.