Review published Apr 2009.
Mr. Timothy is the son of Bob Cratchit, the Tiny Tim who was unbelievably, irritatingly, sweet in A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. After the end of that story, Ebenezer Scrooge made good on his resolution to be more kind and generous. Scrooge made sure that Tim's leg was seen by doctors and gave the family money periodically. Now Tim is grown and although still limping is quite able to undergo the adventures awaiting a young man in grimy Victorian London.
When he stumbles upon a dead girl in an alley, he doesn't know she is the first of several similar victims he will meet. He gets a job as "bookkeeper" in a brothel, primarily because the Madame wants him to teach her to read. One thing leads to another and soon we are careening through town as Mr. Timotny becomes embroiled in a satisfyingly complex mystery.
It takes a few chapters for the reader to become fully engaged in the story. The details of London life in Dickens' day accrete slowly but vividly, with all of the dirt, death, grime of the city contrasted with the good hearts of many of the people.
Louis Bayard has written two more literary fictions, which promise to be as good, or even better.