The Streets of Babylon
Carina Burman


Translated from the Swedish by Sarah Death - Winner of the Swedish Academy Interpretation Prize 2008

'As far as escapism goes, this is as good as it gets: at times I felt as if I was actually in the book.' Vulpes Libris

‘I have seen a good many cities. Berlin is a charming conglomeration of small villages, while Paris is truly urbane. But London surpasses them both. One can never quite make out London and the Londoners. Everything is here’

Self-centred, tactless and irresistible, Euthanasia Bondeson makes her debut on the crime novel scene. The setting is London in 1851, the year of the Great Exhibition. Together with a Welsh police inspector the successful Swedish authoress goes in search of her beautiful companion, who has disappeared in the narrow streets and alleyways of London.

She meets beggars and whores, artists and society beauties, all actors on the modern city’s stage in a drama of dark shadows and ever changing desires. In this world where gender boundaries are constantly shifting, can we even tell who is a man and who is a woman?

With skirts flapping Euthanasia forges her way through this romp of a crime novel, surveying the streets which Sherlock Holmes himself will not tread until a whole generation later.

Carina Burman, Ph.D, Assistant Professor at Uppsala University, has written extensively on 18th and 19th century literature and has made a name for herself as a skilful writer of pastiche reflecting the language and atmosphere of days gone by. In 2001, she published a biography of Fredrika Bremer (Bremer: En Biografi), but she is also a well-known novelist and The Streets of Babylon: A London Mystery is her fifth novel.

To read an extract of this title, click here

****'Burman's extraordinary feeling for history and eccentric wit make for a most unusual kind of crime caper.' Independent on Sunday

'A mystery packed with Victorian flavour.' Kirkus Reviews

'In this engaging first volume of a new historical series...Burman reveals her knowledge of Victorian England.' Library Journal

'Sarah Death does a brilliant job of translating from the Swedish. If I hadn’t been told, I would never have guessed this was a work in translation. For a heavy dose of scandal, intrigue, thrills and the odd message in a bottle, I highly recommend The Streets of Babylon.' Vulpes Libris

Full Vulpes Libris review>

'Ms. Burman offers a hilarious version of all the wrong things to do in Victorian Londonm and draws the reader into the fun with her carefully proper writing style.' Washington Times

'This is a tongue-firmly-in-cheek romp through London …this is the first in a trilogy planned for translation, and I look forward the lady’s return.' I Love a Mystery

'She is so totally Amelia Peabody as a Swedish novelist that I really could hardly contain my joy. There is a lot to enjoy in The Streets of Babylon, from the wonderful job Burman does of creating the physical and social atmosphere to the delight of her protagonist, a character who is both sensible and, when it comes to the novel she writes throughout the book, decidedly eccentric. She is certainly fearless and unconventional (donning male attire when necessary) but also quite confident that if Agnes is alive, she will do all she can to survive until Euthanasia can find her. These are not the kind of women to faint away at the first sign of trouble, and to refer to them as "plucky" would be a severe understatement. Euthanasia is vividly portrayed and of high intelligence; she's also not above the occasional kiss with an appealing man when the opportunity arises (shades of Peabody yet again). But characters are only part of the appeal here as the plot spins across the city and in more than one direction. There are villains aplenty in mid-19th century London and Euthanasia seems to meet more than her share. Fortunately she is plenty capable enough to take on the bad guys (and finish writing her work-in-progress). I was quite pleased to discover the work of Carina Burman with Streets of Babylon and look forward to more books with this wonderful character.' Eclectica Magazine

'This mystery novel is an entertaining and sometimes humorous trip to London back in the year 1851...Death's translation to English is so smooth there isn't any evidence that the story was first told in another language. The characters are vivid, and the reader will feel as if they are part of the events as they unfold. The story takes us on a captivating trip back in time with interesting - and at times quirky - individuals, who quickly come to feel like friends.'

'The Streets of Babylon is and excellent historical mystery that makes the time and place seem so alive…Carina Burman provides an exhilarating mid-nineteenth century kidnapped thriller.' Midwest Book Review

'The descriptions of the streets and alleys of the city so are breathtaking, one seems to be there. Agnes may be a bubblehead, but we worry about her when we find out that a mudlark, a child who sieves the slime of the Thames for saleable items, has found the body of a lady... Sarah Death, the translator of THE STREETS OF BABYLON has done a seamless job. It is hard to realize while reading the book that this is a translation. London of 1851 lives again. And the snippets of Euthanasia's latest book that we are allowed to read as she writes them (the book is written in first person) are really typical of the era. And Bondeson's forays into night time London dressed as a man, and her visit to the molly house (read the book to discover what that is) are extremely well done.' –

Original Paperback 270pp
ISBN: 0-7145-3138-3/ 978-0-7145-3138-0
Publication Date: April 2008
World English

COVER DESIGN: Alice Marwick