Forge (Tom Doherty)
Date: September 2003
it at Amazon US
Historical Crime [1880 Leadville, Colorado]
Rachel A Hyde
Second Glass of Absinthe
Mystery of the Victorian West
have read and enjoyed An Uncommon Enemy and Solomon Spring
(both reviewed on this site) then you will no doubt be wondering
what has happened to the strong and gutsy Eden Murdoch and her new
fiance Brad Randall. They are about to get married and Brad is keen
to see his young nephew Kit - but when they arrive in Leadville
it is to find him the prime suspect in a sensational murder case.
He has been living with the notorious Lucinda Ridenour, owner of
the Eye Dazzler mine and a woman of depraved tastes. Just after
a major row he left her home, the weird Black Lace House, and now
she has been stabbed. But he is not the only suspect and Eden is
going to have to solve another murder.
I had feared this was going to be
one of those inevitable husband-and-wife-team whodunits, many of
which are excellent - it is true - but they do have a tendency to
I needn't have worried; Michelle Black is not going
to do this to her readers and this is full of mold-breaking surprises.
Kit is bisexual, Brad has to dash back to his ex-wife's side to
nurse his young son and the whole tale is filled with questions
about sexuality, respectability and convention. This is very much
a woman's book I feel, although not a tub-thumping feminist tract.
Eden and Kit's spiritualist girlfriend Bella ponders the state of
marriage and both Kit and Lucinda's son Christopher are tormented
by their sexuality. Read it too for its tactile depiction of life
in Leadville, for which absinthe seems to be almost a symbol and
its teasing plot. I found in the earlier two books there was a tendency
to delineate characters as either being good or bad, but this is
not true of this novel and I can imagine reading groups everywhere
having a ball discussing this one. In keeping with its whodunit
theme, it is less bleak than something like An Uncommon Enemy. But
cozy? Definitely not.