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1001 Book Review: Hawksmoor by Ackroyd


Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd
First published: 1985
Format: Audiobook narrated by Derek Jacobi
Reviewed by: Jen
Rating: ★★★

In the 18th century Nicholas Dyer, an architect, and secret devil worshiper, is commissioned to build seven London churches. In the 1980s, detective Nicholas Hawksmoor is investigating a series of gruesome murders that took place in the sites of those same seven churches. Hawksmoor alternates between the two time periods and Ackroyd uses different styles to reflect “modern” day language and 18th century language. As the story progresses, readers begin to piece recognize patterns and connections between the two periods.

Nicholas Dyer is loosely based on real life architect Nicholas Hawksmoor (I wish I had known this prior to reading the book – notice the overlapping names of characters) who worked with Sir Christopher Wren (also mentioned in Ackroyd’s book). The real Nicholas Hawksmoor was a free mason who incorporated pagan symbols into his churches and did in fact build the 7 churches mentioned in the book. The Guardian published an interesting piece on Hawksmoor and his churches. Scroll down the bottom of this review to see images of the 7 churches.

Let me begin by saying that audio is the wrong format with which to tackle this book. The book is confusing, the author jumps around between time periods, some names are similar across time periods, and the narrator does not do a good job of distinguishing between voices.

Now on to my review… Read more