This book is a pulp melodrama-adventure centred on Peregrine Harker, boy journalist in gaslamp-era London. Peregrine, an orphan whose explorer parents disappeared in South America, is full of high hopes and Penny Dreadful dreams. He is assigned to investigate the price of tea, and instructed to do so without getting caught up in notions of conspiracy and murder.
This was a great setup for me, but sadly it failed to deliver. It was packed with infodumps and Blytonesque racism. The first three nonwhite men we meet are described as "grotesque", "scarred", "gnarled" and "warty". All the well-worn pulp hallmarks are there: telltale cigar butts, secret symbols clutched in the hands of corpses, a token feisty and beautiful woman, and being shot at a lot. The book does little to play with, subvert or parody the genre, though - it's all worn tropes and mindless action and twists, with the rushed story happening around and to Peregrine. I felt that it ultimately lacked depth and substance, failed to explore character even slightly, and failed to contribute anything new.
Recommended for fans of : Tintin without the sense of humour.