The setting is Bath, England's most fashionable spa, during the spring season of 1787. Haughty aristocrats, wealthy upstart businessmen, social climbers, adventurers, courtesans, sharpers, addicted gamblers, and a representative sample of the dregs of English society gather for pleasure and profit in this lovely Georgian city...
Anne Cartier, Colonel Paul de Saint-Martin, and Georges Charpentier pursue a wily dangerous fugitive from French justice in this thrilling sequel to Mute Witness. They must deal with Sir Harry Rogers, a rich, powerful, cuckholded slave trader. His wife, Lady Margaret, loves another man. Mary Campbell, the tutor of their deaf son, has died mysteriously. His black slave Lord Jeff, a footman and bare- knuckle boxer, seeks freedom. Passions mount. Tragedy looms near.
If not quite up to the high standard set by O'Brien's first historical, Mute Witness (2001), this sequel offers fully realized characters, a complex plot and a surprise ending sure to satisfy. In the winter of 1787, Col. Paul de Saint-Martin, who played a leading role in Mute Witness, travels to England to track down an Irish rogue, Captain Maurice Fitzroy, who's been accused of raping a young woman of aristocratic birth while visiting Paris. A side benefit of the trip is the opportunity to see Anne Cartier, a teacher of the deaf, whom Paul befriended in the earlier book. Anne is employed as a tutor to the young son of Sir Harry Rogers, a self-made merchant and slave-trader who resides near Bath. Paul and Sir Harry strike up a friendship during a training session of Sir Harry's prize-fighter slave, and Paul soon becomes the slaver's houseguest at Combe Park. Among the ill-assorted group are Sir Harry and his wife, Lady Margaret, Captain Fitzroy, and Anne and her charge, who bears a striking resemblance to the captain. Also at Bath is the infamous Jack Roach, who is blackmailing several of the city's inhabitants, perhaps even Lady Margaret herself. O'Brien has a knack for portraying strong male characters, such as Paul, Sir Harry and Burton, the Bow Street Runner investigating charges against Roach. Anne, alas, has a lot less to do than she did in Mute Witness. The narrative flows smoothly, and O'Brien has neatly caught the tenor of the time, when being fashionable was of more importance than acting morally. (June 17) FYI: Mute Witness was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Poisoned Pen Press
June 14, 2002
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