Overall, A Medicore Read But Has Promise
Finally finished the book. I found it to be so-so overall. To break it down a little more:
1) it wasn't TOO action-packed, but did have enough action to keep me reading. I'm hoping that the next book has more scenes of fighting/training just because that's part of the joy of reading a martial arts novel.
2) The mystery was interesting with regards to the historical context and it's relationship to the social pressures of that time (it is about Jews living in Victorian England). But as an actual mystery I wan't that engaged for some reason, and the final resoluation of the mystery felt a little bit like a cop-out to me. I didn't see it coming, but when I read it I was like "****, seriously?"
3) The setting is very enjoyable with regards to the author painting a picture of Victorian London, as well as the references to other historical stuff going on at the time. The protagonists home and domestic life are interesting too, in a very Nero-Wolfe-Meets-R.F. Burton kind of way.
4) What really saved the series for me was the characters. They're interesting, and the narrator is relatable, while the protagonist is mysterious and interesting.
I hope that in the next book, however, Barker isn't quite so invincible. He had a little bit of Seagalian "I am never really in danger because I know deadly martial arts and also happen to know all random bits of esoteric knowledge" vibe.
Overally I'd recommend this to any Nero Wolfe fans, fans of historical mystery stories, or those who want a quick and easy read with a little bit of a martial arts twist.