fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book review steampunk George Mann Newbury & Hobbes 2. The Osiris RitualThe Osiris Ritual by George Mann

George Mann’s The Osiris Ritual (2010) is the sequel to his Victorian-era fantasy-mystery, The Affinity Bridge. It shares the same setting and characters, as well as the same positives and, unfortunately, negatives as its predecessor.

We’re back at the start with Sir Maurice, one of her Majesty’s agents and a specialist in the occult, as he attends the unwrapping (literally) of a newly-discovered mummy, who turns out to have been mummified alive. The mystery deepens when those associated with finding the mummy start to turn up dead. Soon, Sir Maurice is caught up in a web of violence involving the contemporary murderer, an old Egyptian myth (the basis for the title), and a rogue English agent who allegedly died years ago. Meanwhile, his assistant Veronica is caught up in her own mystery: a group of young women have gone missing, all of whom attended a particular magician’s traveling show.

Like the first book, The Osiris Ritual has its fun moments. The plot moves quickly, with bodies piling up faster than clues (though not much faster), several chase scenes, a couple of fight scenes, and a climactic showdown with the villain, without a lot of downtime in between. The scenes vary from tense and exciting to a bit too much been-there-done-that, a problem with the first book as well (and one scene is just a bit too implausible for my liking). To be honest, I’m not always sure if Mann is playing on the clichéd adventure-type scenes (train fights, fencing battles, etc.) or is just showing a lack of originality.

The plot was a bit predictable. The red herrings are pretty obvious, and it comes as no surprise (nor is it much of a spoiler) that Maurice and Veronica’s cases eventually dovetail. One area this book was weaker in comparison to The Affinity Bridge is in the chemistry between the two, which was much more vibrant in book one. Here it seems a bit perfunctory, as if Mann is simply going through the obvious motions. Veronica’s sister, whose subplot in book one didn’t add much, is clearly being set up for a major role in book three. Once again, though, her story adds little.

The Newbury and Hobbes books have some charm to them, but it’s of a lesser sort. It’s similar to flipping the channels and ending up on a show you wouldn’t have chosen to watch; it has just enough going on that inertia keeps you there, but if someone suggested going out for pizza you’d be happy to go. As such, I can’t recommend buying either book, but for checking out of the library to fill in a lull between stronger books, you could do worse. I realize that’s faint praise, but based on the first two, I can’t justify a heartier recommendation.

Published in 2010. A steampunk mystery adventure featuring immortality, artifacts, and intrepid sleuths Sir Maurice Newbury and Miss Veronica Hobbes. Sir Maurice Newbury, Gentleman Investigator for the Crown, imagines life will be a little quieter after his dual successes solving The Affinity Bridge affair. But he hasn’t banked on his villainous predecessor, Knox, who is hell-bent on achieving immortality, not to mention a secret agent who isn’t quite what he seems…. So continues an adventure quite unlike any other, a thrilling steampunk mystery and the second in the series of Newbury & Hobbes investigations.


  • Bill Capossere

    BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.