“The rain poured down on London so hard that it seemed that it was dancing spray, every raindrop contending with its fellow for supremacy in the air and waiting to splash down. It was a deluge. The drains and sewers were overflowing, throwing up – regurgitating, as it were – the debris of muck, slime and filth, the dead dogs, the dead rats, cats and worse; bringing back up to the world of men all those things they thought they hard left behind them”
On a cold wet stormy night Dodger comes to the rescue of a young lady in trouble. A tosher by trade he’s used to keeping to the sewers and dodging out of everyone’s business. Everyone who is nobody knows him and anyone who is anybody doesn’t. Until now.
Now dodger is finding it much harder than he used to to live up to his name, especially when dodging would mean staying away from the lady he saves from a beating.
This was my first Pratchett and well, I think we all know it won’t be my last. To be honest putting me off the author was the huge tome that is Discworld, I was worried that I’d have to start there and let’s face it; where do you even start! However when Dodger was announced I knew it was my kinda book, a historical crime thriller set in scummy Victorian London with a main character not unlike one you’d find in a dickens novel. I knew I’d be impressed, and now I’ve finished Dodger, I’m queuing up for my next Pratchett!
The story starts slow but to be honest it gathers a vivid, realistic scene of the time period and the books settings. I had started it hoping that I would get it read quickly, perhaps in a day or two… Four days later I finished. I didn’t expect Pratchett’s writing style to be so different to what I am used to and it takes some getting used to so I think that might be why I found the beginning so slow, but its worth carrying on if you hit the same snags I did. For all I’d heard about Dodger not being the same person as the character in the Dickens novel I saw him the same as I see Dickens’ dodger and it didn’t help when Dickens himself turns up at the beginning but I loved that there were so many we’ll known names within the pages of Dodger, even if their accounts were fictional.
Once I had gotten used to the text, the voice and the setting I flew through Dodger so fast and I loved it. The humour that Pratchett utilises is just fantastic and had me laughing out loud. The scenes in the sewers smelled bad and I could feel the dark, dank setting as I was reading. I could also feel the presence of the characters whilst I was reading which I loved.
The characters were fantastic, with Soloman being perhaps my favourite. I loved Dodger himself and Miss Simplicity but there were more brilliant characters. I loved Oman and his name which I did have to google after the footnote mentioned to, but it added a lot of humour into the book. I loved that Dickens wasn’t the only other author/ authors story to be mentioned and there were other bits of intertextuality going on.
I found myself surprised at the strong female characters within Dodger to be honest. I had thought there wouldn’t be any but both Miss Simplicity and Miss Angela were brilliantly strong minded characters who knew what they wanted and didn’t want to stop at anything for it, including the prejudices of the world in which they lived. That aspect of the story was just brilliant and really impressed me.
All in all I was really impressed with Dodger and his antics, some were far-fetched but let’s face it, it’s fiction. Pratchett does discuss the merits of using real characters within Dodger in the acknowledgements and that opened my eyes to a few things but I still loved wading Dodger and would really recommend it to anyone who loves a bit of a thriller.
Dodger was published on September 13th by Doubleday, a Random House imprint. my copy was purchased from a local supermarket.
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