"The Beast Within," by Emile Zola

Novel, 1890

Melodrama set on and around the French railway line from Le Havre to Paris. A book both old fashioned, in its narrative approach, but also modern, in terms of the themes of technology and intense, dysfunctional psychology and some warped crimes and derring-do. And a cracking read – the details firmly set up the social and physical surroundings, but the action is relentless. Some barbed comments on the justice and political systems are also thrown into a book whose pace – like the trains and characters – whisks the reader along and grips them at the some time. 

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