by Thomas Brennan
Cover Artist: Christopher Gibbs
Review by Mel Jacob
Ace Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425258170
Date: 31 December 2012 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
A British company is about to open the Transatlantic Span linking Britain to New York. The Queen will open the line in a few days. Security worries about saboteurs. An employee of the firm is killed and found floating in the Mersey. Half his face is missing and his body bears tattoos identifying him as an Orange Irregular from the Boer War.
Liverpool Police Inspector Langton recognizes the tattoos. Some of the Boer units became mercenaries and now work for the UK government. Langton is uncertain whether the victim works for unfriendly Boers or is an agent of the crown. Soon, the murder is followed by others as Langton seeks to identify the victim and find his killer.
Langton, haunted by the death of his young wife, has recurring nightmares of imprisonment in a small dark place. Sometimes the imprisoned person is his wife and at other times, he is the one. He seeks help from a revered academic who believes in men who seek to imprison the spirit of dying people. These men are called the Jar boys. At first, Langton rejects the rumors as false, but gradually begins to wonder. He also finds help from a nurse who served in the Boer War, but warns him against taking the academic too seriously. He races against time to find the murderer and to save the Transatlantic Span.
A shantytown of Span widows and others has grown up around the pillars of the Span. It is dangerous for policemen to enter. Langton tracks a seer and a roommate of the dead man there. He finds both, but the roommate escapes before Langton can question him.
Other steampunk series in setting and in themes such as Steven Harper's Clockwork Empire series and Paul Crilley’s The Lazarus Machine: A Tweed & Nightingale Adventure have similarities to Doktor Glass. However, this novel focuses more on Langton and his search for answers to his wife's death.
The climax presents plenty of action, some surprises, and derring-do by Langton. Those who like a more literary steampunk adventure will enjoy Doktor Glass.