Louis Bayard is a brave man. Not only did he take on the task of writing a sequel to one of the most beloved tales in English literature but he made it a murder mystery to boot!
Following the death of his father, “Tiny” Tim Cratchit is struggling to find his way. Panged by the constant guilt in greeting his benevolent “Uncle” Scrooge with an open hand, Tim cuts off the flow of money and takes up residence in a whore house where he accepts a job teaching the headmistress to read. During the evenings, he dredges the Thames with his friend Captain Gully, searching for valuables in the pockets of the recently deceased. During one of these excursions, he witnesses a police investigation regarding the death of a young woman found branded with the letter “G” upon her shoulder. Stumbling into the investigation by rescuing a girl doomed to similar fate, Tim must race against time to uncover the party responsible while simultaneously keeping the young woman safe.
At first glance, I thought Mr. Timothy would be a gimmick novel; a cash grab if you will. However, I was surprised by how compelling a read it was. Bayard succeeds where many might have failed – he takes Dickens’ iconic characters and injects them into an edge of your seat thriller without hitting you over the head with who they are.
That being said, I particularly enjoyed Tim seeing his deceased father in the face of everyone he meets, a way to play up just how close they were. Bayard also throws in short chapters in which Tim writes to his father, filling the reader in on events that occurred after the original story and before the one Bayard is presenting.
No disrespect to the author but Mr. Timothy is a far better novel than I thought it would be. Bayard crafted a Christmas yarn that fans of Dickens classic should definitely check out this holiday season.