The Anarchists' Club, Alex Reeve

Review Written By
Andrea Thompson

A year ago, Leo Stanhope was a crossroads.  Leo has plenty of excellent reasons to keep a low profile and is keen to move on from the vivid memories of violence and horror that almost cost him his life.  He may not be flush with funds but Leo is comforted by the fact that his life now has a structure of sorts. He has friends, he has work, he has a home.

An odd encounter in his landlord’s pharmacy followed by a murder leads to the police coming to visit Leo.  At a club frequented by radicals and foreigners, a woman has been murdered and Leo’s address was in her purse.  When asked to accompany the police to the scene of the murder, Leo is horrified to recognize someone from his past who knew him back then as someone entirely different.   Worse, Leo is threatened with exposure if he does not provide this man with an alibi for the time of the killing.

THE ANARCHISTS’ CLUB is the second book of an original new historical crime series set in Victorian London.  Our dashing young protagonist Leo Stanhope has far more challenges to face than the average young Londoner of the age but dives headfirst regardless into peril to get to the truth.  Leo was assigned the female gender at birth and is now living as best he can as a man in an era that is either ignorant or hostile to the plight of transgender people. 

What strikes you first about this novel is how utterly convincing the setting is to read of.  Only a few pages in, you will be completely sold on the author’s version of Victorian England from the street lamps to the street urchins.  You are absolutely there, and everyone we meet springs fully realized to the page.

It is difficult not to feel anxious for Leo as he lives his somewhat attenuated life on the fringe, constantly shadowed by multiple threats, real or imagined.  This casts a blanket of fear over everything that he does, with every interaction Leo has with others needing to be examined in the moment, and also after.  Leo has a necessary pre-occupation with self, a heightened constant state of awareness to his surrounds.  It is exhausting a life fraught with tension.

THE ANARCHISTS’ CLUB is a captivating wintry mystery set in a time that lends itself well to the premise of an amateur detective who need to employ both wits and foot power in his investigations.   At the core of this read is family – the burden of its expectations and responsibilities, secret shame, the weight that the past can have on the present.

 THE ANARCHISTS' CLUB is a comfortable, warming read that encourages the reader to ‘take the air’ of Victorian London.  The light of the lamps beckons. 

British author Alex Reeves’ first novel THE HOUSE ON HALF MOON STREET was a 2019 Richard and Judy Book Club pick.

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It's been a year since Leo Stanhope lost the woman he loved, and came closing to losing his own life. Now more than ever, he is determined to keep his head down and stay safe, without risking any of those he holds dear. But Leo's hopes are shattered when the police unexpectedly arrive at his lodgings: a woman has been found murdered at a club for anarchists, and Leo's address is in her purse. Not only that, but a member of the same club knows Leo's birth identity and will share it with the authorities if Leo does not provide him with an alibi.

If Leo is unmasked, he will be thrown into an asylum, but if he lies, will he be protecting a murderer?

Review The Anarchists' Club, Alex Reeve
Andrea Thompson
Sunday, July 14, 2019

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