By Charles O'Brien
Poisoned Pen Press - June 2002
ISBN 1590580109 - HB
Historical Crime
1787 Bath, England

Reviewed by: Rachel A Hyde,
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This is another adventure for thoroughly modern Anne Cartier who is once again put through her paces as tutor to the deaf and solver of crimes. Sent to Bath to tutor the eleven-year-old Charlie, son and heir of wealthy Sir Harry Rogers who has made his money slave trading. He has a slave at his palatial house working as a footman whom he is training to be a boxer, and more problematical, he also has the villainous Captain Fitzroy, his wife's cousin staying there. Hot on the Captain's heels for the rape of his young goddaughter is Anne's colleague and would-be lover from the previous book Colonel Paul de Saint-Martin, determined to bring the cad to justice in France. But there is more afoot than either of them realize, although perhaps not quite so much as the book's lengthy 396 pages might suggest.

There is less of the swashbuckling sparkle of the first book, "Mute Witness", and more pottering than there ought to be, making the story sag, which is a pity. O'Brien gives a good depiction of 18th century daily life and Anne is certainly an original creation, as she handles her pistols like a pro, converses with nobility and street folk alike, gallops about wearing breeches, teaches the deaf and looks back on former careers as an actress, hire-wire artist, singer and dancer. Admittedly, she isn't presented on every page as quite such a superbeing as she was in the first book, but she is still formidable, overshadowing her dogged French colonel and his ex-Bow Street partner. Book three needs to get back some of the fizz from the first book that made it such fun, but nevertheless, this is the sort of book that bridges the gap between historical genre fiction and mainstream. Sure to have a lot of fans despite - or perhaps because of - its faults. A series to watch for.

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