March 20, 2020


What are your overall thoughts (SPOILERS)?
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Ryan Harrison

Pretty good book

Amy Long

Amazing book Best I have ever read!!!

Leah Tohomas

I ageee it is a wonderful book that I couldn’t put down!


Well woven into the historical landscape. Detective Field was a solid character, and most of the others were appropriately Dickensian. Cobb was, however, eventually just too far fetched and his extreme actions and successes pushed the story into a different (cheap thriller?) category.


The character Cobb certainly is extreme, but keep in mind that mental illness was even more poorly managed in the 19th century than it is now.

For one thing, law enforcement was rudimentary. There was greater opportunity for people to get away with horrors then than now, and we see no shortage of horrors today.

People every bit as twisted as Cobb live today who, with wild and bizarre behavior successfully committ outrageous atrocities in our world today.

Perhaps they could have benefited from a CSI: LONDON.

You think?


I agree his psycho pathological personality is congruent. However, I did have a hard time reconciling how he knew certain things such as getting disembodied by a carriage vs train incident. To mediate this I reminded myself that this is a work of fiction.

Danielle W

When Cobb first entered Prince Albert’s carriage he explained that there was to be an accident, but that Albert, “wouldn’t feel anything.” I think Cobb had planned all along for Tom to drive the carriage into the path of a train and that would explain Albert’s death. Tom’s ‘counter-plan’ was to escape on/with Lily so she and he wouldn’t be killed in the accident.


Agree. He somehow knew that at that point there was a chance that he might get run over by a train and need a “fill-in” body…
But I still enjoyed the read 😁


Or maybe into the realm of being considered for a movie! Look at the villain in the Da Vinci Code, Hollywood does love an overdone villain. Cobb could almost have been written specifically for Paul Bettany. And why not? It would be excellent entertainment


With those black eyes, I was picturing Alan Rickman (blonde hair notwithstanding!) Definitely had a Severus Snape vibe


I agree.


I agree that Cobb did seem almost “too” indestructible. Even if his plan had involved faking a hit with the train, he did not plan on struggling with Fields and he had an injured leg. Cobb was also “too wealthy” even with the selling if the bodies as a side business. He would have needed a lot more than just the money his old master had around the house in order to finance everything.

George Eliot

London 1859: Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, Karl Marx, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Inspector Field, Charles Dickens!!! It’s amazing to think about the historical moment and so far it is an exciting story (I really hope the little boy makes it out of the creepy Chorister’s evil hands safely).


I thought it was an interesting book I liked the way the anti-Darwinism and the protagonist kind of wrap together in the end.

Jennifer G

Awesome Great Book Hands Down


having read the first five chapters, I love being taken to Victorian England. I really enjoy the way Mason captures the linguistic differences between characters, and I love the spots of humor in this mystery.


I just started reading The DArwin Affair and I’m riveted. But I am at the part where The Chorister makes his first appearance and I’m wondering what’s left to the mystery when the killer has already been revealed so early in the book. I’ll keep reading till the end, though.


I’d say the early reveal allowed us to discover what made him in to the monster he was. That was where the true mystery lays. To take it one step further, what keeps us from becoming a psychopath (if we aren’t already)?


Awesome read! Loved the twists and turns throughout the story. It made me want to research about Albert and Victoria. Would recommend to everyone.


Its a good book


A Good Read, kept me invested to the end, my only wish is that in the afterword the author would have discussed Tom and Belinda as well.


The book is “OKAY”


Would you recommend that I read it??

I enjoyed it and couldn’t help thinking of Terry Pratchett’s character Sam Vimes, I guess they’re both based on Dickens character Mr Bucket

Glynn Stallard

In what Terry Pratchett title’s does Sam Vimes appear?


Start with Guards Guards. The series within the discworld books in the night watch

Glynn Stallard

Thanks 😊


Loved it

Judi .mackey

I enjoyed the book especially the historical references. I think it could have had fewer. Characters as occasionally the story got muddled.

Stephanie Mackey

I agree about characters getting muddled. I kinda forgot who was who between Sir Richard Owen, Bishop Wilberforce, Sir Jasper, and I think a fourth guy.

Vanessa markow

Good book I felt that the characters on both sides were very detailed and the relationship between queen Victoria and Albert was explained arm although I did not know that he died of typhoid type symptoms I don’t know if that’s true or part of the book but all in all I enjoyed the book

Janice Hayes

It is a very good book.

Nancy Fourrier

Loved it! Very morbid- some might find it disturbing.

Nancy Fourrier

Loved it! Good read, interesting characters.


I really enjoyed the book. Mysteries are my favorite genre so it isn’t surprising. I have shied away from some mysteries because they are too gruesome. Despite what the murderer gets up to in this book, the violence isn’t wallowed in. The plot was twisty and satisfying. Couldn’t put it down!


Agree! The violence was described only as much as necessary, it wasn’t gratuitous.


Even though I knew how much controversy Darwin generated I did not realize how hated he had to have been. The slant on his discovery I was taught was religious so I never realized that the general population would see his discovery as radical(were all equal).

Kathleen D Davis

Yes, and to have the high church clergy involved in the plot to kill Albert was especially fun to my science-based heart.

tlb etc

interesting read but seems highly slanted to political correctness. have to keep in mind that it is a fictional book.


This was an awesome book. I normally don’t read mystery, but this book was really good!

Last edited 2 months ago by Allie

Good tongue in cheek modern take on Dickens. The macabre violence more 21stcentury. Loved the twists and turns. Will be great on film!

Margaret Smith

Not really. Terrible atrocities took place in and around Victorian times – Jack the Ripper, Sweeney Todd etc

Danielle W

I agree that it’ll make a great film! The book read like a screenplay, everything conjuring such vivid imagery.


I always enjoy a good historical mystery, and this one not only provided extensive and interesting Victorian atmosphere, but also connections to so many historical figures in a natural way. The workings of the early Metropolitan police seem in tune with other mysteries I’ve read, and as Margaret Smith said, the violence wasn’t really atypical for that time (or possibly any time).
Tom Ginny and his mother were characters worthy of Dickens, and I also really enjoyed the “Dickensian” ending—all the characters gathered around the Christmas table!

Susan Kaumans

I am galloping thru the forst 10 chapters and looking forward to the rest of the book. Nicely paced and very good for my imagination


What a wonderful book! It captured my attention and kept it throughout. I kept stopping to do a little research here or there. Fascinating history that came alive through this book. Thank you!


I love a good fiction tied into real life events. I read well past my bedtime a few nights, not able to put it down!

Ann Marie

Good read.

Deb M

I enjoyed the book very much. Historical Mysteries are my favorite genre. I read it in three days. Just had to find out how the murderer would be caught


I found it too gruesome for my taste, but could not stop listening. Very well written. I wonder how historically accurate the depiction of police and medicine was? And who was buried in the woods? I found that bit less than convincing.
The narration was excellent!


I couldn’t stop listening to audiobook. Very interesting characters, story and mixing in of fact with fiction.

Kat McGrath

Audiobook. I just couldn’t get into it. Started 3 times. There is just too much other stuff out there for me to enjoy rather than struggle with this.

Cindy C-S

The book is not bad but I found it a little choppy in parts and there were some parts that didn’t flow well. A few times I had to backtrack to either understand the action or the characters. Even with the backtracking, there were a couple of actions that kinda didn’t seem plausible to me or were not explained well enough. As an action story, it was certainly well packed and fast paced but likely at the expense of the characters. I wanted to connect with the characters more in order to understand their actions especially the secondary characters….but I’m… Read more »


Hard to concentrate and follow story sometimes with the slang English in the audio version otherwise a great story. I like the idea that Evolution and The Lord can work together.


A worthwhile read. I kept reaching for my ear throughout the book.

Danielle W



Good one.

Eileen Salamon



I am enjoying this book. Can’t wait to see what happens, especially want Tom to escape the terrible influence of Decimus.


I have read quite a few Victorian era thriller/mysteries and enjoy them (Anne Perry’s 2 series, primarily). This one fit into that genre and was an interesting and thoughtful exploration of the thinking at that time, well written, interesting characters and the bonus of a look inside Victoria and Albert’s relationship and life at court was appreciated. Glad I joined the group!


Enjoyed the book. Historic fiction not my usual type of reading. Curious if Mary in book is based on US “Typhoid Mary” or a similar person in England.

Glynn Stallard

Interesting. I don’t think there was a similar person in England. The actual Typhoid Mary (whose name was Mary Mallon) wasn’t born until 1869, years after the action depicted in this book.


Maybe not “based on” but rather an inspiration for.


The Typhoid Mary angle interested me also. Enjoyed the audiobook although it was difficult at first to grasp the various characters. Enjoyable read.


Loved the story! A very fast read. I truly am a murder mystery (& historical fiction) junkie at the moment. Field’s character, based on Mr. Bucket from Dicken’s Bleak House, also gets mentioned in Alan Bradley’s series featuring 11 year old Flavia de Luce. She has a sister that is *forever* rereading Bleak House. So now, I am reading Bleak House. One good book leads to another.

Thank you Big Library Read for providing copies of The Darwin Affair to everyone!

Kim Keen

I love historical fiction and thought this was a great read. There are some moments in history and some places on earth that seem to attract characters – real or fiction – and Victorian London is just such a time and place. As such, it is important that the characters are believable, that the setting rings true and, in this case, the science (and detective work) is authentic. For the most part it seemed that way to me.


Good book overall, kept moving and not getting bogged down. The only criticism I have is the Typhoid Mary plot. Totally unnecessary. Just a deus ex kind of thing at the end. All the other plot lines kinda lined up at the end just fine. She could have been cut and nothing lost.


I rather thought she was a good example of how the villain exploited and manipulated anything and everything he could. He used other people to kill for him, and this was just an example of that. It wasn’t necessary to know who his victims were going to be. I was a bit perturbed by the rising body count, and when you consider all of her “victims” as well…..well.

Danielle W

I think the Typhoid Mary bit sets Inspector Field up for an intriguing sequel!


I thought she was very necessary to the story, showing how deeply Cobb’s revenge was planned. There was always a chance that his personal murder of Albert would fail, this was plan b. Using her on Huxley’s family a kind of added extra. Nice twist to the story.


I agree, Mary only furthered the story when she interacted with Tom. The whole bit about Prince Albert and possibly dying of Typhoid was unnecessary, not to mention making the ending rather unsatisfying.


Overall good melodrama in the vein of Dickens. But the Typhoid Mary plot line was extraneous.

Judith Papas

Really enjoyed it. Kept you in suspense. Liked the use of historical figures


Good read. Now Bleak House is on my reading “bucket list.”


Good start but then the story begins to drag 😴


I really enjoyed this book. Fast paced and not as easy to predict. It challenged me to recall historical facts. So many things to comment on character development,Stockholm syndrome mental health…..

Sandy Masterson

Fun reading this time. Little bit Dickens, little bit Sherlock, tied together with good humor.


I enjoyed it, but would not have chosen it for a BIG READ. I do like the historic events tied in to a novel. Easy way to learn about history.


After reading the book, my interest in Darwin and the theories of that era led me to spend quite a bit of time googling and refreshing my knowledge, as well as reading more current impressions. Also, the grim conditions that people lived in were sobering, and reminded me of the Dickens I studied years ago in university

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