The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter by Rod Duncan (Review)

Elizabeth Barnabus lives a double life – as herself and as her brother, the private detective. She is trying to solve the mystery of a disappearing aristocrat and a hoard of arcane machines. In her way stand the rogues, freaks and self-proclaimed alchemists of a travelling circus.
But when she comes up against an agent of the all-powerful Patent Office, her life and the course of history will begin to change. And not necessarily for the better…

i just finished this fabulous novel over the weekend, and was at a loss when i reached the last page. 

Rod Duncan’s steampunk/alternate history novel ticks all the boxes and certainly throws the protagonist out of the frying pan and into the fire with an almighty bang.

Elizabeth Barnabus has to live a duplicitous life in order to circumvent her surroundings. By day she is Elizabeth a young woman who lives on a boat named Bessie and by night she is her brother, Edwin an intelligence operator living a dangerous life and in the sights of the Patent Office who oversee “The Great Accord” to “protect and ensure the wellbeing of the common man”. Agents of the Patent Office have a wide reach and can prosecute and punish individuals or organizations who are violating the terms of the accord.

Elizabeth goes in search of a missing man and along the way falls into a deeper plot. There is action and danger around every corner but Elizabeth has the nous to overcome the obstacles even with the ever present agent of the Patent Office, John Farthing. 

Along the way there are many characters that Elizabeth meets some of whom help her in her quest. My favourite of these was a character called Tinker who was just adorable. Elizabeth is immediately likeable and just wait till she undergoes her transformation into her mythical brother. its fantastic.

The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter is most definitely a mystery novel, but there is an espionage quality to it and the Circus speak (or pilori) reminded me of the way intelligence agents speak in say a Le’ Carre novel or Anthony Price’s Audley/Butler series. This a novel that when completed leaves the reader wanting to know more about the world of Elizabeth Barnabus and her past.

Also, look out for the Sleepless Man. He has no affiliation with myself but almost … maybe. Although with a lack of moustache.

Duncan has set up what is a going to be a must read series and it certainly starts with a bang. 


The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter is available on the 4th September from Angry Robot Books and the author can be found on twitter @RodDuncan and thethe-bullet-catchers-daughter splendid fellow’s website 

and bonus material can be found here