OCTAVIUS GUY &
THE CASE OF THE THIEVING MAHARAJAH
July 29, 2022
Fabulous series. I was a bit put off by the title and series name, but Michael Gallagher is a fantastic writer. Clearly well-researched, but I enjoyed the story arcs, the pacing, and above all, the defined characters that the author allows to develop subtly.
Anne-Marie McDonagh, Goodreads Reviewer
May 31, 2022
This is the first of Michael Gallagher’s series of stories about boy detective Octavius Guy. Octavius is a minor character in Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone. Other characters from Collins’ book also turn up in Gooseberry. It’s a very long time since I read The Moonstone and I’ve forgotten most of them except for the butler, Betteredge, with his obsession with Robinson Crusoe. It was fun meeting him again and I imagine fans of The Moonstone will enjoy the joke.
You don’t need to have read The Moonstone to enjoy Gooseberry, though. It’s a wonderful romp through the Victorian underworld with a lovely sense of period. There are one or two fantastical elements: Gallagher admits that the Thames Tunnel was never remotely as described and since it’s easily enough visited today that seems an unnecessary invention, but it does allow the plot to bowl along. I’m not going to carp. It’s a great book and I had fun reading it.
September 07, 2021
I just finished this lovely book by Michael Gallagher and thoroughly enjoyed it. I deliberately read it slowly, in order to saver the atmospheric details.
Set in early 1852, Gallagher has done his period research. He presents characters who fit well in the time period, and engage my interest. The settings in London are described with great details.
September 26, 2020
What a delightful book this was to read! Taking off from the great Wilkie Collins and in a similar style of writing but completely original, the author has done justice to bringing characters to life. Everything was fast pacing, every moment was adventurous and has an exciting ending. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I will definitely have to read more from this author and this series! Well done.
June 17, 2020
Excellent, well rounded, characters. I think Bertha being my all time favourite. Sgt Cuff was exactly as the Moonstone portrayed him. The pace was quick and carried you along in its flow
As an ex-Londoner, it was brilliant to be able to (almost) accurately follow Octavius on his travels.
October 6, 2019
Yet again, with meticulous attention to historical detail, Mr Gallagher has created a story that is really engaging and populated with some fascinating characters. Gooseberry, our eponymous hero, is brave, clever and funny. He is a young self-educated, and far less self absorbed, Sherlock Holmes.
What I particularly love about Mr Gallagher’s books is that they can be read and enjoyed by all ages. I have already lined up Gooseberry’s next adventure onto my Kindle.
July 30, 2019
Gooseberry, the teenage super sleuth is trying to solve the mystery of the missing Maharaja and a rather large diamond. Using his connections in the seedy Victorian underworld of London and his detective skills he goes about helping the Blakes family. I enjoyed this book very much, well written, wonderful characters and a great plot. I especially liked Gooseberry's little brother Julius and their friend Bertha. Definitely worth a read.
July 30, 2019
I loved the real feel of Victorian London in Michael Gallagher. You immediately feel the dirt of the cobbles and dankness of the industrial revolution in the air. This is backed up by some excellent characters and a plot worthy of Sherlock Holmes. I've not read the Moonstone (which the characters are based on in this book) I'm now going to have to give that a go and the rest of Michael's sequels as well.
July 15, 2019
I thoroughly enjoyed this first book in the 'Send For Octavius Guy' series. The main character, Octavius, is an engaging 14 year old ex-pickpocket turned solicitor's investigator. His former life in the Victorian underworld provides a rich background of potential storylines and characters. I found his unusual family set up endearing and completely believable; clearly the author has researched the lives of a broad spectrum of people living in 1850's Victorian London. The twists and turns of the plot kept me guessing and I greatly appreciated the subtle, humorous asides.
Author Michael Gallagher has used some of the characters from Wilkie Collins' 'The Moonstone' and created a believable and 'cosy' mystery. I was unfamiliar with 'The Moonstone' so I found an online summary in order to understand more about the Octavius Guy character but it's not necessary to know Collins' story to appreciate and enjoy this well crafted story. The descriptions and characterisations are very visual and beautifully done. This is a wonderful, wholesome and satisfying read and I am already enjoying book two, with book 3 lined up and ready to start. What better indication of a 'must read' series is there?
May 02, 2019
A delightful and beautifully written mystery, Gooseberry is a witty and lighthearted read with plenty of twists. A pick-pocket turned teenaged sleuth, Octavius is as good at crime solving as he is at relieving people of their valuables. I was hooked from the start and spent as much time trying to guess the outcome as I did laughing out loud. Not only is it an engrossing read, but it's also full of historical facts. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and can't wait to read another of Mr. Gallagher's mysteries. Forget Sherlock Holmes, send for Octavius Guy!
April 21, 2019
In the best sense of the phrase, Gooseberry is a rollicking good yarn.
Octavius is a young man with a past, also known as Gooseberry because of his bulging eyes. His criminal past has given him the skills to solve a mystery that falls the way of his respectable employer, Mr Bruff, a lawyer. The story starts with an assault resulting in the discovery of a mysterious photograph, and takes us through theft, kidnap and even murder. At every turn of events Octavius pits his wits against villains from his own past and the perpetrators of this new conspiracy. While all the time trying to behave in a way that serves as a good role model to his younger brother.
This is an easy and thoroughly enjoyable read, with characters that become real in the minds eye, and a setting that evokes sounds and smells of how I imagine Victorian London to be. The story is told at a good pace, without unnecessary padding and with very good humour. I particularly enjoyed the cameo appearance of Prince Albert and the quirky personality given to him.
Michael Gallagher has obviously gone to great lengths not only to reference real historical events, but to include (and educate us in! ) the language of the period. Together they serve as a great foundation onto which a highly entertaining tale has been told.
Gooseberry should appeal to all ages from young adult onwards.
April 08, 2015
Sometimes you see a book and just know you're going to love it.
That's how I felt when I spotted 'Gooseberry' by Michael Gallagher on Librarything. The fact that I had yet to read either Wilkie Collins' 'The Moonstone', which is the inspiration and touchstone for Gallagher's novel, or anything previously written by Gallagher himself, was deemed irrelevant and swept aside. I had thoroughly enjoyed Wilkie Collins' 'The Woman in White' and I am rather partial to a good detective story, so what could possibly go wrong?
Presumably Librarything's secret algorithms felt the same way since they kindly gave me a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. (Thank you!)
What's it about?
In 1852, three years after the events depicted in 'The Moonstone', an odd event befalls Mrs Rachel Blake and her mother. Out in town one day, a gang of street children surround them and frighten them badly. When they reach the safety of their home, they realise that, rather than robbing them, the children appear to have gifted them a small photograph of a young Indian boy.
Perplexed, they turn to their lawyer, Mr Bruff, to solve the mystery. He, in turn, involves the eponymous 'Gooseberry', a young clerk with a knack for detection. The novel follows Gooseberry's first person perspective as he investigates what gradually transpires to be a criminal attempt to steal a precious diamond. In the process, the reader is given a different perspective on several characters who originally featured in Collins' novel.
What's it like?
An absolute treat for fans of Collins' novel and a successful novel in its own right.
It does begin slightly unpromisingly, to my mind. There's a glossary of street slang, which always suggests to me that I'm going to become sufficiently lost to require a translation. (After all, if the words were comprehensible from their context, which arguably they should be in a decently written story, why would anyone bother including a glossary?)
However, once I moved past this and Gooseberry's narrative began I was hooked. Events develop intriguingly, characters are well fleshed-out and there're plenty of humorous touches.
How does it relate to the original?
Very neatly. Characters are consistent in background, attitude and, well, character, so readers will be unsurprised to find the former Miss Rachel instructing Mr Frank[lin], or Gabriel Betteredge quoting Robinson Crusoe. Little links to the original text (such as Mrs Merridew's dislike of explosions) make this a pleasure to read as a follow-up, but Gallagher's choice of narrator allows him to adopt a slightly different viewpoint.
Where Collins was content to poke fun at some of his lower class characters for their idiosyncrasies, Gallagher uses Gooseberry to reveal the naïveté and selfishness of the aristocracy. This is done in a light hearted but very revealing manner, as when Gooseberry is overlooked once again by the gentleman of the house and reflects that: "either Mr Blake suffered from the most rotten eyesight, or he'd been trained from birth not to notice his lessers." I particularly enjoyed Mr Bruff's relationship with Gooseberry; Gooseberry looks on his superior's naivety fondly and takes care not to shock him.
There was plenty of sly humour in the original, but from this new perspective Mr and Mrs Blake lack street smarts and appear slightly silly when refusing to believe Gooseberry was once a thief, (and a very skilful one at that,) then again for not realising that one particularly colourful character, 'Big Bertha', is actually a man. I enjoyed this new perspective and feel it helps to give an otherwise very Victorian novel a thoroughly modern feel.
Although he avoids the multiple narrators used by Collins, Gallagher retains the sense of documentary inherent in the original by having characters report events they have witnessed to others. Fortunately Gooseberry is usually central to proceedings [so] there are still plenty of dramatic moments.
This is a very modern book - it was originally serialised on Goodreads as Gallagher was writing it prior to being edited for publication as a whole - and a very Victorian one: serialisation was, of course, how popular writers including Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins originally published their novels.
Gallagher creates a good sense of place and time without seeming to bury readers under a mountain of obvious research. Gooseberry refers frequently to London's changing geography and recent history: he wonders what happened to the panes of glass from the Great Exhibition, comments on the route the drovers take to market and on where the international train station will be built, and visits the newly-built Thames tunnel.
I did read 'The Moonstone' prior to reading 'Gooseberry' and my knowledge of the original events / characters certainly enhanced my enjoyment of the latter book, but if you aren't familiar with the original or if your memory's just a little rusty on the details, it is entirely possible and still enjoyable to read this as a standalone novel.
January 04, 2015
I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this ebook through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers and I'm so glad because I absolutely loved it! The characters, derived from Wilkie Collins classic The Moonstone, really came to life for me, as did the Victorian Era during which the book is set. Octavius Guy, aka Gooseberry, is an especially interesting character. Taken under the wing of a wealthy and successful lawyer, Gooseberry proves his worth with his intelligence and intuitive detecting skills. Having been a successful pickpocket and member of London's underworld of crime prior to his rehabilitation at the hands of Mr. Bruff, Gooseberry is able to go places and talk to people in his former profession, learning things that his employer cannot, and using his knowledge of how criminals work and his past experience to his advantage.
The case that Gooseberry and his employer become involved in is intriguing from the start. After being accosted by a group of children, usually a tactic to fluster and distract enabling one of the gang to steal something, an elderly woman finds that instead of something missing, she has acquired an unusual photo. Investigating the matter throws Gooseberry into a complex case involving a legendary diamond, a deposed Maharajah and a twisting plot of kidnapping, murder, romance and deception. Wanting to find out what happens next and how Octavius connects the clues he discovers kept me reading well into the night.
The details and research Michael Gallagher has done to prepare for this book really shines through. I loved the characters (especially Bertha), and details about things like the Thames Tunnel, and the differences between the social classes of the time. Very well written and I am really looking forward to reading more books about Gooseberry!
January 07, 2015
I have to admit, I put off reading this book because I found the cover so amateurish. I know how the saying goes, but experience has taught me that an amateur cover usually contains an amateurish novel.
This book would be one of the exceptions to that rule. The writing is crisp, period appropriate and very readable. It successfully echoes the style of the Moonstone without slavishly aping it. After reading so many poorly researched Victorian novels recently, it's a welcome change to come across an author who knows the era so well.
Octavius is pretty well rounded, and an entertaining narrator, but the mystery plot meandered a bit towards the end, and the Moonstone characters felt underdeveloped compared with the original ones (it felt a little like they were being used as a shortcut compared with creating new ones).
(I did love the inclusion of recipes at the end, though!)
Mina Kelly, LibraryThing Early Reviewer
December 01, 2014
I received this through Early Reviewers and imagine my delight to win a Michael Gallagher book! The previous books I read by him were delightful and this one does not disappoint. Octavius, a former pickpocket and now young, almost-detective, has been asked by his boss to help solve a mystery. This takes place in London, 1852. Since Octavius was instrumental in solving a previous mystery, his expertise of the lower classes of London is invaluable in the current one. One of the most delightful things about Mr. Gallagher's books are the descriptions of the places and development of the characters. I can SEE the streets and places. I love the characters.
Octavius (Octopus, Gooseberry) helps solve a mystery involving a young Maharajah (kidnapped? missing?), the East India Company, the Kohinoor diamond, and various and sundry thieves, scoundrels and a few Royals. Total delightful mystery which moves along at a great pace. The only thing I didn't like is that I finished it too fast.
M M Plante, LibraryThing Early Reviewer
November 30, 2014
This is a lovely cosy mystery which is set in the Victorian age. The main character who was himself once a pickpocket and now is working as a detective for a lawyer is drawn back to work underground and is faced by his old nemeses as well as old friends. He has to solve a mystery which includes not only the underworld but also the upper-class as well [as] the Queen and her husband. The spelling style is absolutely gorgeous because there are parts of street language as well as the proper English.
Barbara Heckendorn, LibraryThing Early Reviewer
November 23, 2014
So good! I am a huge fan of Michael Gallagher and this book is Michael at the top of his game. He takes the characters from the classic book "The Moonstone" and turns them loose in a brand new mystery. Well written, well plotted, the characters and the settings are wonderful. When you read a book by Michael Gallagher be prepared for a total immersion-every bit of scene setting, speech, character and historical detail is perfect.
The story is that Gooseberry, real name Octavius & former pickpocket, tackles a mystery involving other characters from Moonstone. Mrs. Blake and her aunt have been attacked on the street by a gang of children. Gooseberry must use all his wits and his connections within the street urchin world to figure out what is going on. What is the deeper mystery hidden in the motivation for the attack?
I enjoyed this book so much—just when I thought I knew what was going on, Michael threw in another twist! I highly recommend this book for fans of The Moonstone who wonder what happened next. I was given a copy, the review is my own opinion.
Chris Keen, LibraryThing Early Reviewer
November 22, 2014
I read this as an ecopy so did not get to fully appreciate the beautiful cover. Connect with the author on his social pages to see it and other images that will be even more interesting as you read this book.
Gooseberry will appeal to all ages, from those who listen to it being read, perhaps age 8 and up, to readers of classic literature and mysteries. It has been a while since I read about the Moonstone, but knowing just a few basics is all you need to appreciate this story. Those basics are provided in this book. The Moonstone is an enormous diamond stolen from an Indian shrine. There are references to it as being how Gooseberry, the hero of this novel, meets the other characters.
Gooseberry's real name is Octavius. Before he came to his respectable employment, he struggled to stay alive using his talents for picking pockets. A natural nickname for someone with his name and talents is Octopus. Now that he is respectable and has left that past behind, Gooseberry, so named for his bulging eyes, tries to set a good example for his younger brother Julius. This becomes more difficult when they help hide another street survivor named Bertha in their own home.
I do not want to give away the story. It works wonderfully as author Michael Gallagher unfolds it. Gooseberry has to use his former talents and contacts to solve a mystery with very few clues. Once he has an idea of what crime is being committed, he has to expand his talents to be in the right place at the right time. Unfortunately that place will also turn out to be the wrong place.
If you are a fan of Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Wilkie Collins, or George Eliot, you will appreciate this adventure.
I was gifted a copy of this book but the review is my honest opinion. I enjoyed this tale.
Wismom (Laura in Wisconsin), LibraryThing Early Reviewer
November 16, 2014
I received this book as an ebook free from the author through LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review. The business of the Moonstone diamond continues with many of the same characters from the Wilkie Collins’ novel The Moonstone. This was a very interesting scenario. Gooseberry, a former slippery and swift pickpocket, has been taken in by a lawyer and has become his office boy and amateur detective. He helped solve the mystery of the Moonstone diamond in the past. He is now 14 years old and in this book he ferrets out the truth from his former friends and haunts in London’s underworld and solves this new mystery involving the Moonstone diamond. This is a very entertaining story and I liked the way the author used the Palari slang spoken by the lower classes in nineteenth century England. The author includes a very helpful glossary of Palari terms at the beginning of the book which I bookmarked for quick reference. I recommend this very entertaining and interesting book.
I ADAM, LibraryThing Early Reviewer
November 02, 2014
Received in pdf for Early Reviewers - my heart sank when I saw the length of it (more than 250 pp) to be printed out. But I was pleasantly surprised by the story: it's a fast-moving, rollicking and compelling read, conjuring up the atmosphere of Victorian London and its underworld. The tale is narrated by the young lad Gooseberry, real name Octavius Guy, former pickpocket turned detective. The characters, taken from the Wilkie Collins novel The Moonstone, are likeable and well described in a suitably succinct manner (but isn't it an easy cop-out to adopt another writer's characters?), the background vivid and the story entertaining (though I picked up the daguerreotype clue right from the beginning). The author seems to have carried out a lot of research on the period, including a study of the slang used in less savoury circles. And a handful of recipes are included at the end, adding some local flavour. The only thing I object to is the American spelling (why?) - and oh, it would have been kind to number the pages as they got muddled spewing out of my printer and it took me a while to sort them out. Another small thing, but it's just personal taste: I don't like the font used for the cover (Gooseberry), too quirky and modern, out of context with the very nice photo.
Barbara Ender Jones, LibraryThing Early Reviewer