The Affinity Bridge

George Mann
The Affinity Bridge Cover

Gaslamp Avengers


While I was reading George Mann's The Affinity Bridge, I could not get the image of The Avenger's John Steed and Emma Peel out of my head. (I'm sure that I'm not the first person to say this. I have not looked at other reviews). Now, Sir Maurice Newbury is younger and better looking than Steed. And Veronica Hobbes is no cat-suit wearing martial artist. Sir Maurice is clearly the "muscle" not Miss Hobbes. Despite these physical differences, Newbury and Hobbes have the same bonhomie and sexual tension as Steed and Peel.

Like Steed, Newbury is an agent for the Crown, and like Peel, Hobbes is his "talented amateur." The novel opens with Newbury and Hobbes still feeling out their working relationship, as she has only been working for him for a few weeks. Newbury is investigating a case of a glowing blue policeman who has been strangling the poor in the Whitecastle slums. In the middle of this case, a dirigible crashes, carrying one of Queen Victoria's distant cousins. The Queen assigns Newbury this case as well. This case leads Newbury and Hobbes to a factory that makes clockwork automatons.

The glowing policeman and the clockwork men are two of the fantasy/steampunk elements in this novel. The third element is part of the cultural background of the world Mann creates. Besides the steampunk elements, there are zombies; well, Mann calls them revenants. These revenants are caused by a virus that entered England from India. This pandemic forms a part of Newbury and Hobbes' culture as much as the steampunk elements do. To this point, I have been using the term "steampunk"; however, I read this book as a part of the Gaslamp Fantasy challenge, and this is an appropriate genre for the book because the setting is steampunk but the plot, as I have shown focuses more on the investigations than the gadgets and the science.

I enjoyed this book. I liked the setting and the characters. However, the pacing of the novel does seem a bit off. There's a lot of talking in the first two-thirds of the book and the final one-third is all action sequences. In this last section, Newbury fights revenants, automatons, and human criminals. There are two lengthy chase scenes. I skimmed a lot in this section. The conclusion itself is satisfying as Mann brings all the threads together. The epilogue sets up the next book in the series, which I look forward to reading.