Audiobook Review: Hyde by Craig Russell
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 2 of 5 stars
Genre: Horror, Mystery
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Random House Audio (September 28, 2021)
Length: 14 hrs and 12 min
Author Information: Website
Narrator: James Cosmo
It’s hard to say exactly why Hyde didn’t really work for me, though I did enjoy the author’s last novel The Devil Aspect and somehow I just didn’t feel this one held the same fascination or appeal.
Our story begins in Victorian Edinburgh where Captain Edward Henry Hyde holds the post of chief detective, and as such it is his job to uphold the law and lead the investigation into any serious crimes in the city. And so, when he wakes up one day at the scene of a grisly murder, he is immediately alarmed. For you see, Hyde suffers from a particularly worrying form of epilepsy that causes him to lose time. These amnesic occurrences can come on very suddenly, and every time he finally comes to, he can never remember anything that happened.
In this case, his awakening so near to the crime scene inevitably leads him to wonder whether he had any connection to the murder. To make things worse, the victim was killed in an especially brutal manner called the Threefold Death, linked to an ancient Celtic ritual involving the spirts and sacrifice. As the chief detective though, Hyde has no choice but to keep his condition and suspicions a secret, even as his investigation takes him to some dark places, both literally and figuratively.
First let me just say my issues with this novel are entirely subjective. Craig Russell is an excellent writer, as I found out with The Devil Aspect, and his prose was just as delectable here in Hyde, as was the overall style which was pure immersion and atmosphere. However, it was the story itself that failed to engage me. Due to the circumstances surrounding our protagonist, there was a disjointed feel to the plot that didn’t quite do it for me, not to mention the entire book felt simply too drawn out.
In some ways, I think my indifference might also have been the result of the author doing his job too well. Had my interest been greater in the time period or the ultra-gothic vibes, the book might have resonated with me more. An obvious example of this was the Hyde’s internal exposition detailing his thoughts, emotions and memories, which was heavy-handed to the point of driving all life from the writing. To a lesser extent, this over-telling was also happening with the dialogue, resulting in conversations that felt awkward and contrived.
Ultimately, it became very difficult to care about the story or the characters. This made reading Hyde a struggle for much of my time with it, and it didn’t help that the narrator for the audiobook had a relatively flat, droning kind of voice. Despite zoning out on the audiobook frequently, I also found I was missing very little because of how slowly the plot progressed. Credit where it’s due though, when all was revealed, the final resolution to the mystery was enjoyable, though probably not enough to make up for everything else. I wish we’d gotten more of the mythological side of things too, but instead the story decided to go in another direction. In hindsight, I can understand why, but in the end that did little to help spark my enthusiasm.
Bottom line: you win some, you lose some. I’d looked forward to Hyde ever since having such a great time with The Devil Aspect, so of course I’m heartbroken that this turned out to be a disappointment. My previous positive experience with Craig Russell makes me want to chalk this up to one of those “it’s not this book, it’s me” situations though, so your mileage may vary, and I’m probably going to keep checking out the author’s projects and hope that his next one will be more my speed.