Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Noble Blood
Anne Cartier Series, No. 3

by Charles O’Brien

      Teacher of the deaf, Anne Cartier, has now entered into a morganatic marriage with her aristocratic lover and fellow sleuth, Colonel Paul de Saint-Martin of the Royal Highway Patrol.  Still musing over whether she has done the right thing, she finds herself drawn into a case where her new husband’s influence will be vital and enable her to enter a world that would otherwise be closed to her.   Denise de Villers is an ex-student from the Institute of the Deaf and has been working as a maid to the Duchesse Aimée de Saumur.  But her mistress has been found murdered, and fingers seem to point towards Denise as the culprit.  If she is found guilty, she will be burned at the stake - but did she actually do it? And why do several people seem so keen to see her take the blame?   

The third book in this unusual and entertaining series ( Mute Witness and Black Gold are also reviewed on this site) dishes up another inventive and absorbing story.  Previously I had complained that despite the enjoyable feel of old swashbuckling adventure story and fast paced plots, Anne had far too many talents and seemed over emancipated for the times.  This has been toned right down, and she seems a shadow of her former self, at times rather too much so.  Her husband is a mere cipher, though a useful one, and the plot shifts forward to take center stage.  Not quite, though, as surely the historical background of events leading up to the revolution makes this book rise above the common run of "mystoricals".  Watching the decadent aristos fiddle while the country burns amid turmoil of cruelty, debt, and bad management is intriguing because we know what will happen.  This is a time filled with legend, yet not all that removed from our own times, making it a fascinating backdrop for a convoluted and teasing plot.  However, like a shower that can only run boiling hot or freezing cold, the two protagonists need to be finely tuned to give us the balance between superbeings and automatons.  I am confident that Mr O’Brien will get there sooner or later, and then this will truly be a series to be reckoned with.

The Book

Severn House
August 2004
Historical Crime - 1787, Paris
More at US|| UK
NOTE: Deaf Characters

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2007
© 2006