This thrilling sequel to `The Ruby in the Smoke' provides another taut atmospheric chase through the hurly burly of Victorian England.
Exquisitely written and packed with a wonderfully diverse, often terrifying cast of characters and dark twists and turns of plot, the second installment of the Sally Lockhart trilogy--an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a Booklist Editors' Choice, and a nominee for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Mystery--is entirely impossible to put down. Make sure book 3, The Tiger in the Well, is close at hand as you near the end of this one. (Ages 12 and older) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
This book, like everything else by the same author, suffers from egregious logic lapses. In this case it's that a weapon "too terrible to be used" would be a gun that ran on railroad tracks, since it could be used by a government against its own population. This, of course, would only work in a country where the population was too dumb to think of blowing up the railroad tracks.
Two of the main characters from _Ruby in the Smoke_, the preceding book, are missing without a trace and they never get mentioned. It's as if the author had broken up with them and didn't want to talk about it. The connection to the preceding book is tenuous, not to say non-existent.
Aside from the graphic sex which is probably acceptable in children's books these days, and the fact that all of the characters are adults and that much of the plot hinges on financial and stock market concerns, the main character loses her dog and her fiance in graphic violence. I guess that sort of thing doesn't upset most child readers, but it sure isn't my idea of fun. I really wish I'd spent the time I spent reading this book reading something else.
I guess the intention of the books is to mirror the "penny dreadfuls" that one of the characters is always reading. Well, the book costs more than a penny, but other than that I'd say it was a success.
Sally's friend Jim is back in the book which is good since he's the best developed male in all three books. How can you not like someone as verbally prolific as Jim who describes the case (and the book itself) as "There's fraud, there's financial jiggery-pokery, there's spiritualistic humbug, there's all kinds of wickedness, maybe worse." Later when Sally gives him a sisterly kiss, he remarks "That's better than a whisticaster in the rattlers (a smack in the gob)".
Sally's still friends with the Garlands, who own a photographic studio and detective agency. Fred Garland develops into a love interest.
One day, a retired school teacher tells Sally that her advice for the teacher to invest in a company has had disastrous results. I had to wonder if they had heard of diversification in those days since the teacher had "put all her eggs in one basket". I was also surprised Sally didn't know the company had gone bankrupt, but those are minor points. Sally resolves to look into the matter. Her investigations bring her threats and dastardly deeds from the owner of the bankkrupt company. It develops that her investigation has links to one Fred Garland has ongoing involving a weasel like magician and other mediums who are necessary to provide enough clues to lead the intrepid investigators in the right direction.
The clues are too convenient, the bad guys aren't too belivable, the plot twists a bit too contrived, but it doesn't matter.Read more ›