George Mann’s The Osiris Ritual 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.