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The Ninth Stone

by Kylie FitzPatrick

      Widow Lily Korechnya writes a column on "exceptional women" for The London Mercury, where she takes under her wing young orphan Sarah O’Reilly. Lily has also been recruited to catalog the jewel collection of Lady Cynthia Herbert, who has in her possession several unique colored diamonds belonging to the Maharajah of Benares. These are being taken to a jewellers to be made into a magical charm - but before this can happen several people connected with the gems are murdered. Sarah is sure that the culprit cannot be simple Holy Joe, friend to her ethereal sister Ellen. Thus begins a strange journey to discover whodunit, and a lot more.

Habitual readers of typical historical crime will soon discover that this is something rather different, and certainly a lot more spiritual. Just about everybody in the book seems to have something to do with the world beyond the grave, or are susceptible to supernatural or superstitious influences. This is a book to read slowly and savor for its tactile descriptions of foggy London and luminous Benares, but it is not a typical Victorian whodunit with echoes of Jack The Ripper and Conan Doyle. It is more original, and concentrates more on topics such as women’s rights, superstition, the allure of gemstones, and racial prejudice to name a few. I felt that it could have stood some editing in places, but it is worth reading to see how it is possible to take subjects like arcane cults, mysterious murders and magical talismans and create something totally different in a racy, pacey adventure story.

The Book

Weidenfeld and Nicolson (Orion UK)
4 January 2008
0297852760 / 9780297852766
Historical Mystery / 1864 and 1871 / London and Benares, India
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008