In 1820's London, Julian Kestrel and an unlikely partner--bold and bewitching prostitute Sally Stokes--stalk a murderer through the high places and low life in Regency London, after Sally mistakenly steals a letter from one of her clients containing an urgent plea for help from a distraught young woman. Reading tour.
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YA-Ross's second mystery about Julian Kestrel, the Regency dandy, teams him with Sally Stokes, a cockney prostitute who helps him solve a clever and devilish murder. One night, as is her custom, Sally steals a handkerchief from each of her three clients. In one, she finds a letter from a woman being held against her will and begging for help. A concerned and frightened Sally runs into her brother, a reformed pickpocket and Kestrel's valet. Soon she and Kestrel are matching wits to find the owner of the handkerchief and locate the desperate woman. Through dogged legwork they locate the three men, each from a different strata of society but each of whom has something serious to hide relating to a young heiress, the Reclamation Society, and the seamy underground life of London's Haymarket District. The clues come thick and fast in this action-packed mystery. Ross provides a good look at the beginnings of the London police force as well as the working of the English courts and the role of magistrates in this authentic view of early 19th-century social life.
Mary T. Gerrity, Queen Anne School Library, Upper Marlboro, MD
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Who was the anonymous damsel in distress who wrote the pleading letter streetwalker Sally Stokes inadvertently pinched from one of her three clients one evening? For that matter, which client's handkerchief contained the letter, and how can Regency dandy Julian Kestrel, the gentry-cove for whom Sally's brother Dipper works, identify the letter's author, its intended recipient, or the man who stole it? With his customary aplomb, Julian traces the author to oily Rev. Gideon Harcourt's Reclamation Society, but by the time Sally's ready to go undercover as a soul ripe for reclaiming, the still-unnamed author has been fatally poisoned, giving still another twist--and not the last--to the mystery. Not the equal of Julian's masterful debut in last year's Cut to the Quick--the coincidences are unbelievable, and the climax drags on intolerably--but it does prove that the sparkle of the earlier novel was no fluke, and makes you wonder if Julian might be the most likeable and accomplished historical detective since Brother Cadfael. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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