Victorian Revenge and Its Lunacy: Guest Post by Robert Morrison {Inspector of the Dead Blog Tour} + Giveaway!

Today on the blog I am pleased to bring you a fascinating guest post on Thomas DeQuincey by author Robert Morrison as part of David Morrell's Inspector of the Dead Blog Tour! I also have a chance for one of you to win a copy of David's latest novel.

Robert Morrison is the author of a forthcoming edition of Thomas De Quincey, which will be released this year in Oxford University Press’s new 21st-Century Oxford Authors series:

Victorian Revenge and Its Lunacy

David Morrell has done it again. Two years ago, in Murder as a Fine Art, he produced a gripping tale of terror and despair set in 1854 London, and featuring the infamous English opium addict and essayist Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859), initially as a suspect in the gruesome murders, and then as a police consultant intimately involved in tracking down the killer.

At the heart of Murder is Morrell’s reimagining of De Quincey’s two most famous works. The first, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821), is De Quincey’s seminal account of both the pains and the pleasures of opium, a drug which he consumed in vast quantities in a potent tincture called “laudanum,” and which is now much better known in the form of one of its chief derivatives: heroin.

The second, a three-part series On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts (1827, 1839, 1854), is De Quincey’s wide-ranging exploration of the Ratcliffe Highway murders of December 1811, when seven people in two separate incidents were brutally murdered in London’s notorious East End. In Murder, the assassin is obsessed with De Quincey and his opium addiction, as well as with the Ratcliffe Highway killings, which he delights in re-enacting step by blood-soaked step.

Morrell’s newest novel, Inspector of the Dead, picks up where Murder finishes off, once again bringing De Quincey as opium habituĂ© and true crime connoisseur vividly into view, and extending even further the range of references to his life and his writings. Most notably, “revenge, and the lunacy of revenge,” as De Quincey once memorably phrased it, drive both Morrell’s assassin in Inspector and the anti-heroes in two of De Quincey’s finest works of terror fiction.

In The Household Wreck (1838), De Quincey produces a disturbing tale of injustice, deceit, and incarceration, and concludes with a scene of mob violence in which the blackmailer is beaten to death, and the narrator’s thirst for vengeance is satiated. Morrell draws deeply on this tale in Inspector, reworking some of its central features to shape his account of the misfortunes that befall the killer’s family, as well as the implacable rage that subsequently governs his actions.

Even more centrally, in The Avenger (1838), De Quincey explores the unnerving consequences of vigilantism and persecution in a tale in which a war hero returns unrecognized to the town where his innocent mother was publicly flogged to death, and begins to assassinate those responsible for the atrocity.

Morrell comes back to this tale on several occasions in Inspector, including when the violence initiated by his killer careens so far out of control that he – like De Quincey’s killer – becomes his own enemy. De Quincey in The Avenger creates an assassin who sees his acts of retribution as confirmation, not of the dead-end futility of violence, but of the divinity of his bloody mission. His “avenger” is at once a saviour and a suicide, a protector and a destroyer. In Inspector, Morrell’s “revenger” – as he is called throughout the novel – makes equally compelling claims on our sympathies.

De Quincey’s finest writings include his drug-addled Confessions, his lurid accounts of murder as a fine art, and his terror tales of execution and revenge. It is to these works that Morrell turns in Inspector, creating a dynamic interplay in which De Quincey feeds Morrell, Morrell intensifies and reinterprets De Quincey, and the writings of both authors are transformed in the process. Morrell has not only opened up new perspectives on the range and relevance of De Quincey, but his ongoing fascination with him has produced a second tour-de-force, in which mid-Victorian London is once again the backdrop for a superb tale of detection, reprisal, and addiction.

More on Robert Morrison

Author of The English Opium-Eater: A Biography of Thomas De Quincey (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2009), which was a finalist for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography, 2010. Co-general editor of The Selected Works of Leigh Hunt, and editor of Hunt’s essays, 1822–38 (Pickering and Chatto, 2003). Editor of three volumes of the Works of Thomas De Quincey, and co-editor of a fourth (Pickering and Chatto, 2000–03). Editor of Thomas De Quincey, On Murder (Oxford, 2006), Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: A Sourcebook (Routledge, 2005), and “Richard Woodhouse’s Cause Book: The Opium-Eater, the Magazine Wars, and the London Literary Scene in 1821,” Harvard Library Bulletin (1998). Co-editor, with Chris Baldick, of The Vampyre and Other Tales of the Macabre (Oxford, 1997), and Tales of Terror from Blackwood’s Magazine (Oxford, 1995). Author of “William Blackwood and the Dynamics of Success,” Print Culture and the Blackwood Tradition, 1805–1930 (Toronto, 2006) and “The Romantic Essayists,” Literature of the Romantic Period: A Bibliographical Guide, ed. Michael O’Neill (Oxford, 1998). Articles in Essays in Criticism, Romanticism, The Wordsworth Circle, and Victorian Periodicals Review.


Frank Knox Award for Excellence in Teaching (2014)
University of Lethbridge Distinguished Alumnus of the Year (2013)
Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance Teaching Award (2008)
Frank Knox Award for Excellence in Teaching (2008)
W. J. Barnes Award for Excellence in Teaching(2006)
Frank Knox Award for Excellence in Teaching (2006)

About Inspector of the Dead

02_Inspector of the Dead Cover 

Publication Date: March 24, 2015 | Mulholland Books | Hardcover; 342p | ISBN: 9780316323932

Genre: Historical Mystery

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David Morrell’s MURDER AS A FINE ART was a publishing event. Acclaimed by critics, it made readers feel that they were actually on the fogbound streets of Victorian London. Now the harrowing journey continues in INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD.

Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his Confessions of an Opium-Eater,confronts London's harrowing streets to thwart the assassination of Queen Victoria.
The year is 1855. The Crimean War is raging. The incompetence of British commanders causes the fall of the English government. The Empire teeters.

Amid this crisis comes opium-eater Thomas De Quincey, one of the most notorious and brilliant personalities of Victorian England. Along with his irrepressible daughter, Emily, and their Scotland Yard companions, Ryan and Becker, De Quincey finds himself confronted by an adversary who threatens the heart of the nation.

This killer targets members of the upper echelons of British society, leaving with each corpse the name of someone who previously attempted to kill Queen Victoria. The evidence indicates that the ultimate victim will be Victoria herself. As De Quincey and Emily race to protect the queen, they uncover long-buried secrets and the heartbreaking past of a man whose lust for revenge has destroyed his soul.

Brilliantly merging historical fact with fiction, Inspector of the Dead is based on actual attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria.

Praise for Inspector of the Dead

“Riveting! I literally thought I was in 1855 London. With this mesmerizing series, David Morrell doesn’t just delve into the world of Victorian England—he delves into the heart of evil, pitting one man’s opium-skewed brilliance against a society where appearances are everything, and the most vicious killers lurk closer than anyone thinks.” —Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of Crash & Burn and The Perfect Husband

What the Victorian Experts Say:

“Even better than Murder as a Fine Art. A truly atmospheric and dynamic thriller. I was fascinated by how Morrell seamlessly blended elements from Thomas De Quincey’s life and work. The solution is a complete surprise.” —Grevel Lindop, The Opium-Eater: A Life of Thomas De Quincey

“The scope is remarkable. Florence Nightingale, the Crimean War, regicide, the railways, opium, the violence and despair of the London rookeries, medical and scientific innovations, arsenic in the food and clothing—all this makes the Victorian world vivid. The way Morrell depicts Thomas De Quincey places him in front of us, living and breathing. But his daughter Emily is in many ways the real star of the book.” —Robert Morrison, The English Opium-Eater: A Biography of Thomas De Quincey

“I absolutely raced through it and couldn’t bear to put it down. I particularly liked how the very horrible crimes are contrasted with the developing, fascinating relationship between Thomas De Quincey and his daughter, Emily, who come across as extremely real. It was altogether a pleasure.” —Judith Flanders, The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Reveled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime

Buy the Book

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

03_David Morell ©_Jennifer_EsperanzaAbout the Author

David Morrell is an Edgar, Nero, Anthony, and Macavity nominee as well as a recipient of the prestigious career-achievement Thriller Master away from the International Thriller Writers. His numerous New York Times bestsellers include the classic espionage novel. The Brotherhood of the Rose, the basis for the only television mini-series to be broadcast after a Super Bowl. A former literature professor at the University of Iowa, Morrell has a PhD from Pennsylvania State University. His latest novel is INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD, a sequel to his highly acclaimed Victorian mystery/thriller, Murder as a Fine Art, which Publishers Weekly called ”one of the top ten mystery/thrillers of 2013.”

For more information visit David Morrell's website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Inspector of the Dead Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, March 24
Review at Unabridged Chick
Excerpt at Boom Baby Reviews

Wednesday, March 25
Review at Back Porchervations
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Thursday, March 26
Review at JulzReads

Friday, March 27
Interview at JulzReads

Monday, March 30
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Spotlight at Tales of a Book Addict

Tuesday, March 31
Interview & Excerpt at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, April 1
Spotlight at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Guest Post at Mina's Bookshelf

Thursday, April 2
Review at Build a Bookshelf
Review & Giveaway at Mina's Bookshelf

Friday, April 3
Review at Peppermint, Ph.D.

Monday, April 6
Review & Giveaway at To Read, or Not to Read
Excerpt & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, April 7
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Wednesday, April 8
Interview at Back Porchervations
Spotlight & Giveaway at Words and Peace

Thursday, April 9
Review & Giveaway at 100 Pages a Day - Stephanie's Book Reviews

Friday, April 10
Review at Layered Pages
Review, Excerpt & Giveaway at Drey's Library

Saturday, April 11
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Monday, April 13
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, April 14
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, April 15
Review & Excerpt at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, April 16
Review at Editing Pen
Review at Luxury Reading
Review at The Maiden's Court

Friday, April 17
Guest Post & Giveaway at Editing Pen

Monday, April 20
Review & Giveaway at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, April 21
Review at A Book Geek
Review at Books and Benches

Wednesday, April 22
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Thursday, April 23
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Friday, April 24
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict


To enter to win a print copy of Inspector of the Dead please leave a comment below with your email address.


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 2nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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  1. Looks fantastic, hope to get a chance to read it, thank you!
    jslbrown2009 at aol dot com

  2. Thanks for this fascinating novel which I would enjoy greatly. The author has written memorable books and this historical is intriguing. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  3. This book looks good. I have added it to my TBR list. Thanks. raquel36m(at)gmail(dot)com

  4. Would love to read this. The Victorian period in London is one of my most favorite settings for a mystery.


  5. This sounds awesome! Thank you for such a great giveaway.


  6. I have had this one on my wish list! I love to read about this era.

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  7. This looks perfect for me.

  8. Looks like one I'd enjoy reading !
    dkstevensneAToulookD OtCoM


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