The concept of this novel interested me from the start. Timothy Cratchit, the “star” of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol is now grown up. Instead, however, of becoming as good a man as he was a child, he is adrift, a victim of Ebenezer Scrooge’s largesse, living in a brothel in exchange for teaching the madam to read, and encountering the ghost of his father at every corner. His life changes when he finds a dead young girl, horror still written on her face, marked with a cruel tattoo on her arm. The events that precipitate from that discovery will take him into danger and a pit of debauchery that threatens his life and his sanity.
Mr. Timothy is a rather inept hero, both naive and distracted, and certainly physically feeble, since he still has a limp (although he does not use a crutch anymore). Unfortunately, Bayard has made him so inept that following him through his “Ad-ven-ture” is more painful than enjoyable. The story is difficult to pinpoint: is it a story of coming of age, a story of restoration, or a mystery/thriller? It seems to want to be all three, but does not quite accomplish it. The prose alternates between basic and pretentious with spurts of charm, and makes the reader stumble at times. In the end, both the characters and the story left me indifferent.