The White Hand (a Rutherford Manor novel) by Konn Lavery is a dark historical thriller set in 1890 outside of Chicago, Illinois. The Fleshers and the Savidges live at Rutherford Manor, a house filled with outcasts with a dark past. To provide for their family, Alastor Flesher and Spalding Savidge make a deal with the Irish Mob (The White Hand). They work as resurrectionists, obtaining bodies for anatomists. Alastor and Spalding have a unique process to get the dead bodies, by helping death along, which makes their ‘product’ more desirable. Their position is always precarious due to their methods of body-snatching, but things spiral out of control after Alaster is found dead and the residents of Rutherford Manor suspect he was murdered. Was he killed by The White Hand? Or did someone seek revenge against Alastor for his dark deeds?
I liked the author’s writing style, and the story was filled with intrigue that kept my interest. Even as I was reading about the dark actions of the main characters, I wanted to know what happened to them next. But I had trouble connecting to the characters because the book did not show the struggles the Fleshers and Savidges went through that led them to such desperate acts. Their actions didn’t feel justified. I wanted to know why they didn’t have any other option but to kill, and that compelling motivation was missing.
I liked that several chapters in the book started with philosophical inner narratives that gave additional insight into the minds of the characters. The book was told from the Fleshers and Spalding’s point of view, but they acted more as villains in the story than someone I wanted to root for. While plotting murder, Alastor and his son, Nox, questioned why God let bad things happen to their family. It was a stark juxtaposition seeing them willfully and remorselessly causing bad things to happen to others, yet believing that they themselves were not deserving of the bad things that happened to them.
The demon aspect at the end of the story was surprising and supported the otherwise mild supernatural elements in other parts of the story.
The author is a graphic artist, and I enjoyed the art that was sprinkled throughout the book. The black and white illustrations were able to capture the feel of the novel and gave the overall story some depth. I liked having the visual of what the characters looked like and an image of the scroll that Nox found in his father’s study.
Although the ending of the book left me with as many questions as answers because the story of Spalding and the Fleshers is not finished, I would love to read the next book in the series to learn more. Horror, history, mystery, intrigue… the list goes on. The White Hand is an intriguing page turner.
Pages: 207 | ASIN: B07RGH1KV1