Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: Forge (Tom Doherty) 
Release Date:  September 2003
ISBN:  0765308541
Format Reviewed: Hardback 
Buy it at Amazon US || UK
Read an Excerpt
Genre:  Historical Crime [1880 Leadville, Colorado]
Reviewed: 2003
Reviewer: Rachel A Hyde 
Reviewer Notes:  

The Second Glass of Absinthe
A Mystery of the Victorian West
By Michelle Black 

     If you 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 be cozy…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.