TITLE: THE STREET PHILOSOPHER
AUTHOR: MATTHEW PLAMPIN
This is a rather dark book, which is hardly surprising since a lot of the plot is set at the battlefields of the Crimea during 1854. The horrors of war, death and disease are described in horrific detail. However, since the horrors inflicted are the backbone of the ensuing story, I don't see how those gruesome descriptions could have been avoided without the story losing its motivation.
Thomas Kitson is an idealistic young newspaper reporter when he arrives in the Crimea determined to do what he can to help his senior, Richard Cracknell, to report the truth about the horrors of war to the British public. The third man in their group is a young and rather innocent illustrator, Robert Styles.
Richard Cracknell is a hardened and rather cynical man, but his two young assistants are soon shocked as well as horrified by the brutality, arrogance and incompetance they witness daily.
When the three men witness a diabolical theft followed by brutal murder they try to alert the military authorities, but their story falls on deaf ears.
Three years later, Kitson is working as a street philosopher (tabloid journalist) in Manchester, hoping to have left the past and those who played a role in it well behind him.
However, the Great Art Exhibition and the upcoming visit of it by Queen Victoria bring all players from the past to Manchester, leading to renewed violence and destruction and putting Kitson's life in danger once again.
The story shifts backwards and forewards between the Crimea and Manchester, slowly revealing the events of the past leading up to those in the present.
Despite its darkness, this was a good and very well written story. Plampin is an author I will be keeping my eye on.