The Great Stink by Clare Clark

The Great Stink

Clare Clark

A historical novel which is big on atmosphere. The crumbling infrastructure of the sewers, as they were in Victorian times, is vividly portrayed, as are the horrors of the Crimean War. It's the way the author combines these with themes of the London underworld, corruption in high places and self-harm which produces a breathtakingly racy thriller.

Extract

When he stopped running he was underground. It did not occur to him to ask how he had come to be there or for how long. The tide was rising and he had no lantern but he was oblivious to the icy stream of shit that rushed around his legs, flooding his polished boots and dragging at the wool of his best trousers. He felt only the desperate, deafening need to cut. His right hand clenched in the darkness, every fibre of muscle in his fingers and palms screaming for the familiar weight of the knife. The cravings overran him, a monstrous, murderous army driving battalion after savage battalion into his skull and between his ribs to lay him waste and commandeer the very marrow of his bones. Every inch of his skin was alive with them, every tiny filament of hair blazing as though set alight. Their bayonets spiked every shallow breath he dragged into his throat as he slipped and stumbled down into the darkness, his frozen feet clumsy on the rotten bricks.

Parallels
  • The Whitechapel Conspiracy by Anne Perry
  • Mother London by Michael Moorcock
  • Master Georgie by Beryl Bainbridge