Book Review: Anatomy of Evil by Will Thomas

AnatomyOfEvilCoverSynopsis: Private enquiry agent Cyrus Barker and his assistant Thomas Llewelyn help out Scotland Yard in hunting Jack the Ripper in the seventh entry in the Barker & Llewelyn Victorian mystery series.

Review: The Barker & Llewelyn books just get more detailed and complex over time! This was an enjoyable, if gruesome, addition to the series.

The year is 1888, and a killer targeting prostitutes is terrorizing Whitechapel. The assistant commissioner of Scotland Yard asks Private Enquiry Agent Cyrus Barker and his assistant, Thomas Llewelyn, to help with the investigation.

Anatomy of Evil is the seventh book in the Barker & Llewelyn series by Will Thomas, and it is just as interesting as the other books, but it has a more somber overtone due to the terror and nature of Jack the Ripper.

Pulling many historical details into the book, Will Thomas writes an informative, fascinating tale of Victorian London, and the city comes alive. With the sights and smells of the city comes the terror of a madman running loose, and you feel the civilian’s paranoia and the mob mentality.

Since the mystery is based on Jack the Ripper, it is a bit more serious and gruesome than other books in the series. I missed the fun and lightness of earlier entries, but since the series takes place in Victorian London, there almost has to be a tackling of the Jack the Ripper storyline. This is handled cleverly and is fascinating in all of its detail. I’ve only read a few books that tackle this particular crime, and this one ended differently then the others I’ve read, and I enjoyed learning something new about Jack the Ripper and the time frame.

Anatomy of Evil was chock full of historical detail, which helps bring the setting to life. There is mention of Whitechapel having a predominantly Jewish population, and one of Llewelyn’s best friends is a socialist and a reporter. There is talk of a famous men’s brothel being raided, which was based on history. You even learn how Whitechapel got its name, and many other historical details that drove me to the Internet to learn more. There are also many real life characters that make an appearance, from the Duke of Clarence, to Freddy Aberline, to George Lusk.

Since Barker and Llewelyn are working with Scotland Yard on this case, there was a lot of police intrigue and politics along with the working of the Jack the Ripper case. I found these sections the least interesting. Not that they were boring, not in any way, they just weren’t as interesting as Jack the Ripper, which I do admit to having a fascination with his crimes and his story.

In terms of characters, Cyrus Barker is his usual mysterious self, and there was one scene that gives the reader new insight into his past which we’ve waited seven books for. That scene was a real treat to longtime followers of the series. But what is different about this book is that Llewelyn takes center stage. Which was great, it was nice to see a change and to see Llewelyn being more involved in the action, but Cyrus Barker will always be my favorite character in the series.

This really was a great addition to the series; I get more and more impressed with all of the historical detail in every book that Will Thomas writes. If you haven’t read any of the series yet, this is a book that I think you could read without reading the previous books. You may miss some character development, and Barker won’t seem as intimidating and larger than life in this entry, but it is still an enjoyable read.

Bottom Line: Fans of Jack the Ripper retellings and fans of the Barker and Llewelyn series will like this. Anatomy of Evil is an informative historical mystery with a bit of gore and a lot of character.

**I picked up this book a little earlier than I had planned because I recently joined NetGalley, and the next book in the series, Hell Bay, is available on NetGalley right now and I’ve gotten a copy of Hell Bay through NetGalley! So since I hadn’t read this entry yet, off I went to purchase Anatomy of Evil. Hell Bay releases in October, and look for my review of that book sometime towards the end of October.**

Links to Anatomy of Evil on Goodreads and Amazon

Links to Some Danger Involved, the first of the Barker & Llewelyn books, on Goodreads and Amazon

Links to Hell Bay on Goodreads and Amazon. Hell Bay is book eight in the Barker & Llewelyn series and is scheduled to release in October.

And read my review of book six in the series, Fatal Enquiry, here.

 What do you think? Are you interested in Jack the Ripper storylines? Or are they too gruesome or too overdone? Do you dream of waking up one day in Victorian London?



17 thoughts on “Book Review: Anatomy of Evil by Will Thomas

  1. The only way I would want to experience Victorian England would be in a situation where I did not have to struggle for food, nor live in squalid housing, nor experience the diseases for which there weren’t any antibiotics; a totally romanticized version of it. Which as I think about it, and how women were treated, I think I wouldn’t want to go back to that time period after all!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You bring up a good point about the quality of life and the way women were treated. I think I’d still like to try it out for a bit. It’s the period of history I’m always drawn to!


    1. I agree – I appreciate Jack the Ripper stories that bring something new & different to the table, or touch on a lesser known fact of the case.
      Waking up in Victorian England would be wonderful, but I would also like to bring a few of our modern conveniences back with me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I absolutely adore Jack the Ripper retellings. Actually I adore all serial killer retellings, I’m creepy like that. This sounds delightful actually, not the evil part but the historic details and settings. I may go through the rest of your reviews and pick up book one if it’s available near me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s just something about Jack the Ripper that I find fascinating. The historical detail in this series is wonderful The author really has done his research and the setting just comes alive in all of its squalor and beauty. The series is a lot of fun and I’ve learned a lot from the series!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think one thing a lot of authors TODAY miss when writing about Victorian England is the smell. Houses built back to back so they have zero ventilation, urine and feces in the street, poor hygiene on top of highly inconsistent bathing…then, to to it off, these women are working in a field focused on exchanging bodily fluids. Ewwww.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, this author does bring the smell into the picture, so you actually feel you are there wandering the dirty streets, and you can feel the claustrophobia in certain parts as well. This series is very well done with the historical detail and really shows that grittier side to Victorian England that isn’t often portrayed.
      And ewwww is right. Ugh. This book also touches a bit on the social aspects of the time and why these particular women had turned to prostitution.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your reviewing skills are getting better by the day. This was another beautiful entry after that Iliad retelling. Loved it. And when the review is this good,the book must be even better, no?
    By the way, why aren’t there any rating points awarded in your reviews? I mean, out of 5 or out of 10 or so?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow!! Thank you!!! 🙂 It must be the bold text I’ve been adding in.
      This series is really a lot of fun – good mysteries, great characters, and a fascinating setting.
      Good question about the no rating points. Long answer coming. I will occasionally mention a rating in my reviews, but it’s rare. I do rate books on a scale of 1-5 on goodreads (because I have to), on Twitter right after I finish a book, and also on Instagram if I happen to be able to take a picture of the book I’m reading. But I only do that on those platforms because I need to be short, plus I can use emojis that correspond to the theme of the book.
      I really dislike rating books 1-5, and goodreads irritates me because there are no half stars.
      I dislike rating books like that because my star ratings change over time. What may have been a 5 star book right when I finished it can drop down with time if I never think of the book again. And a 3 star book may stick with me far longer than a 4 or 5 star book. My overall thoughts however don’t really seem to change, so that’s why I just stick with the written review and my “bottom line” thought which hopefully summarizes everything in a very short way.
      Plus, I also read such a variety of books that my ratings are all over the place. For instance, I read cozy mysteries, and I will very rarely rate those over 3 stars. I can’t rate a cozy mystery 5 stars when I’ve rated Great Expectations 5 stars. The two just cannot compare. But that 3 star isn’t bad, not in any way. But it can be misleading.
      And there’s a very very long answer why I don’t do star ratings. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t think it’s only the bold text that’s made the difference. Your approach and detailing, plus the focus on what makes a particular book great/bad, has made the bigger difference, IMO.

        As for rating books, I think a cozy mystery doesn’t need to be the same as Great Expectations. I mean, 5 out of 5 is the limit, even when you think a book is too good for rating, like Great Expectations would be. But a different book could be just as enjoyable and engrossing in its own environment. I mean, it’s only a problem when you’re comparing that book with an all-time classic yourself. Otherwise, you’re free to rate it as you please. I think a rating is a summary of how you felt about a particular book, although you cover that in your bottom line section well. Plus, there’s no need to conform to existing standards, is there? One can rate as one likes.
        As for Goodreads, maybe you should mail them this suggestion. Who knows what may come of that?

        Liked by 1 person

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