Bellman & Black, Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


A haunting Victorian ghost story of love, loss and the mystery of death from the bestselling author of THE THIRTEENTH TALE.As a boy, William Bellman commits one small cruel act that appears to have unforeseen and terrible consequences.

The killing of a rook with his catapult is soon forgotten amidst the riot of boyhood games. And by the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, he seems indeed, to be a man blessed by fortune.

Until tragedy strikes, and the stranger in black comes, and William Bellman starts to wonder if all his happiness is about to be eclipsed.

Desperate to save the one precious thing he has left, he enters into a bargain.

A rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner, to found a decidedly macabre business. And Bellman & Black is born.


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I was very impressed by The 13th Tale but Setterfield's next offering, Bellman and Black, did not do it for me - although I can imagine it making a wonderful BBC period drama replete with gorgeous costumes, beautiful countryside and elegant buildings.In a nutshell, Bellman became an enormously successful businessman by dint of intelligence, hard work and vision, but along the way he lost everything that made him happy and was too blinded by his devotion to his ventures to grasp the second chance when it came along.Bellman entered into a contract with a black clad man whom he saw at every funeral: in exchange for his daughter's life, he promised to make a funeral emporium - a magnificent funeral speciality supermarket providing everything from mourning clothes to edged writing paper, funerary urns for ashes and funeral carriages. Rooks - intelligent black birds - form the leitmotiv and counterpoint to the action in the book. The development of an early department store is mildly interesting but unless you're really into that sort of thing, Bellman and Black, while well written, is a tad dreary.