The Queen of Bedlam by Robert R. McCammon is a haunting historical fiction that takes place in 1702. This is the second novel in the Matthew Corbett series. The series follow Matthew Corbett a young idealist full of honor and virtue living in the time of America’s beginning. Matthew a young lawyer’s clerk loves and respects the law, and wants to see those who break it properly punished. He has a knack for getting in trouble and having adventures. In Speaks the Nightbird Matthew defends a woman accused of witchcraft in the Carolina’s Colony that the town and his own magistrate believe to be true, but Matthew sees the makings of a deep conspiracy. This time Matthew is in New York and chasing a “Jack the Ripper” like murderer the Masker. This series is fun and the character of Matthew keeps evolving, he’s only a clerk for a little while as a greater calling suits him, that of a detective. This book manages to fit in nicely with the first novel, and has a decent amount of call backs. The tone is the same blending Historical Fiction with Mystery with a dash of Horror. This is my second time reading the Queen of Bedlam.

The Plot: After the events in Speaks the Nightbird, three years later Matthew Corbett is with a new magistrate, Magistrate Powers in New York. New York is Matthew’s old home, where he was selected to be a clerk from the orphanage. Matthew now stalks his old and current orphanage headmaster Ausley, speaking to those he abused trying to get them to testify in open court. Matthew while out and about wandering the streets to watch Ausley hoping he commits a crime, stumbles on a murder by the Masker. The Masker is a serial killer known for cutting the victims face like a mask. Matthew’s current magistrate sees potential in him not as a magistrate but for a new organization that help solve mysteries. He gets a trial run on the queen of bedlam case. A woman with no identity is in a catatonic state in a mental institution, she is referred to as the Queen because the only thing she will ask about is if, the king’s reply has returned, but recently she reacted to the death of one of the Masker’s victims. Matthew is tasked with finding out who she is in hopes of awaking her. What Matthew finds out is maybe this woman’s identity is the key to discovering who the Masker is.

What I Liked: The Character of Matthew Corbett keeps getting better and better, as he evolves. The history all fits nothing seems out of ordinary, the descriptions are very detailed and create a perfect visual of the mind. My Favorite new character is Hudson Greathouse the lead detective to Matthew. he’s all brawn and is often surprised how far Matthew’s intellect gets him. I loved the fencing scenes the most. This novel is very well written with lots of little details that add in the end. The climax to this novel was so exciting, I couldn’t remember what happened or who lived or died, which made it even more exciting, like reading it for the first time. The bull through the glass shop was amazing, easily one of my favorite scenes. The tease of the next villain M.r Slaughter was done where you get just enough, and crave his return in the next book.

What I Disliked: Though this plot and climax are better in story and in mystery. This novel misses a very important the first book had, and that is immediacy. The plot moves a long fine but there’s no immediacy in it’s action. In Speaks the Nightbird, Matthew had to solve and disprove the witchcraft, or she was burned at the stake. I this book the murders from the Masker stop for a good while slowing the book down.

Recommendations: I whole heartedly recommend this book, it’s a great mystery set in time that does not get written all that much. The horror element are quick by really good. On my second rereading of Queen of Bedlam my rating went up a point, really liking how much pay off of the little details there is to the main and side plots. I rated Queen of Bedlam 4 out of 5 stars.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s