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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!
This is such a great book. Equal parts mystery, romance, murders, history of 19th century London and suspense. I borrowed it from the library more than once which is a sign that I had to buy it for myself!
Published on Jan. 25 2012 by fantasywriter

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3.0 out of 5 stars Not as Good as His Dark Materials
It was pretty good. Maybe I'm just spoiled by reading Pullman's other (wonderful, amazing) trilogy first, but it was alright. Definitely nowhere near the His Dark Materials trilogy, but we'll read the other books before we judge the trilogy, eh? This is the story of Sally Lockhart, a very capable young woman in Victorian England. Her father dies and Sally finds herself...
Published on Feb. 28 2002 by Abby


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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!, Jan. 25 2012
This review is from: The Ruby in the Smoke (Paperback)
This is such a great book. Equal parts mystery, romance, murders, history of 19th century London and suspense. I borrowed it from the library more than once which is a sign that I had to buy it for myself!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sally, Sailors and Sparkling Stones, Nov. 17 2007
This review is from: The Ruby in the Smoke (Hardcover)
"The Ruby in the Smoke" was first published in 1985, and was the first of Philip Pullman's books to feature Sally Lockhart. It was adapted for television in 2006 by the BBC, with Billie Piper - formerly of Dr Who - playing Sally.

The book opens in October 1872, when Sally Lockhart is only sixteen years old and has recently been orphaned. She never knew her mother, and her father - a former officer in the British Army and co-owner of the shipping firm Lockhart & Selby - has drowned in Singapore on company business. Naturally, she had been very close to her father, who had also taken personal responsibility for her education . (As a result, she knew little of French, English Literature, Art and Music though few other young ladies would have matched her in military tactic, the affairs of the Stock Market, military tactics and book-keeping. His most useful advice, however, was probably "keep your powder dry"). Sally, who also suffers from an unpleasant recurring nightmare, now lives with Caroline Rees, a thoroughly dislikable aunt.

When we first meet her, Sally has recently received a cryptic letter. It warns her of something called the Seven Blessings, and that somebody called Marchbanks will help her. She first visits Lockhart & Selby's offices - there, she hopes to find out not only who Marchbanks is, but also what the Seven Blessings are. Unfortunately, the the firm's secretary - Mr Higgs - can't help her : he suffers a heart attack and dies the moment she asks the question. She doesn't have to wait too long for help, though : Marchbanks, a former army officer, and an ex-sailor called Bedwell are both looking for her - and they both have useful information. This information puts Sally on a collision course with a dangerous villain called Mrs Holland . Thankfully she will have help - most notably from Frederick Garland, his sister Rosa and Jim Taylor - a very resourceful office-boy at Lockhart & Selby's.

A short, easy and enjoyable read - though, given the constant references to opium use, it mightn't be to everyone's tastes.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good mystery, not to be confused with His Dark Materials, June 10 2003
I read this book after finishing the His Dark Materials trilogy. It's obviously a Pullman work, from the strong female heroine down to the complex, fabled power of the titled ruby. Somehow, though, the book felt a bit like Pullman's test-run for the HDM trilogy. Sally, the daughter of a shipping and businessman, is suddenly orphaned when her father dies a half world away. Left to her own devices, she must piece together the clues of his mysterious death and his final message to her. Along the way, she meets and befriends a motley crew of helpers and makes startling discoveries about her own birth and parentage (a familiar tale to anyone who's read HDM).
The book is a solid and entertaining mystery, particularly for a younger segment of "young-adult" readers (ages 10 and up, I'd say), and Pullman's writing is lovely. The book has little of the darkness or subversive subtext that Pullman's more famous trilogy offers, though, and should not be considered a necessary next-read after His Dark Materials.
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4.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites as a teenager., May 7 2002
By A Customer
I love the Sally Lockhart trilogy. The stories read just like a "penny dreadful," only the writing is much more skillful. There is no end to the mystery, fun, and adventure in this too-short series of superbly-plotted books. I took issue with two major decisions the author made (in books two and three), but I won't discuss them here because that would ruin the books for anyone who hadn't read them. Let me just say (and this won't give anything away) that one had to do with a fire, and the other had to do with a replacement that just wasn't good enough.
Book one was the best of the three, and the reason why I went on to read other series by Mr. Pullman. There was an incredible coincidence you had to swallow that I would have spit out with any other book. But the author has so much fun with it, and it's so appropriate for a book that honors that old-fashioned melodramatic genre of dime novels, that it feels like it belongs. In fact, everything feels like it belongs in this book, so finely-woven together is its setting, characters, and plot.
Bravo to Mr. Pullman for his major success with this work!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great read that's hard to put down, May 6 2002
By 
Erika Soeterik (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
Sally Lockhart has been orphaned at 16 by the death of her father. She has come to live with a relative that does not want her - and her life is in danger. Dark figures are movinf around her as she tries to solve the mystery of a message sent to her by her father before she dies. The only clue she has is the name Marchbanks and a phrase, the "seven blessings". Sally is in a race against time, because as she tries to put the puzzle together others are racing to silence her permanently - and she has no idea how many enemies she has.
I had to read this book in one afternoon because I didn't want to put it down. Sally is a great character who really draws you into her world, and the strong supporting characters around her draw you into their world and keep you there. The story is great, but in the end I found it a little bit disspointing at how Pullman pulls everything together (which is why it has four stars and not five). I have the rest of the books in this series from a friend and can't wait to read them too.
These books are completely different from the Dark Materials Trilogy and should be read in their own right. The best part about this book is that Sally is the kind of person that I would have been friends with at the same age - and I can see a little bit of me on her too. Guys should like this book too as their is action, adventure, and suspense.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book for a Mystery, April 28 2002
By 
Liz (British Columbia, CANADA) - See all my reviews
I'm not usually the Mystery type reader but I would have to say that this book was fantastic. I loved the suspense. The best thing about this book is that it's about a heroine and that's always great, plus she's not just another silly girl. She knows how to use a gun, is independent, smart and an overall great character.
I just couldn't put the book down. I would definately recommend this book to anyone!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Intruiging, wonderful, READ IT!, April 18 2002
By A Customer
Phillip Pullman once again captures readers in the poetry of his stories. The Ruby in the Smoke is an intruiging and wonderful book, I could not put it down. Readers of all ages will enjoy this book. Based in 1700 victorian london, entertaining and enjoyable Sally Lockhart finds herself sucked into the journey of a life time. After uttering three simple words "The Seven Blessings" to her diseased father's former worker he drops dead. The whole book pulls you in and never lets you out. His characters including terrifying and sickening Mrs. Holland who steals everything including her diseased husbands false teeth as his coffin closes over his body, and of course smart, business like Sally Lockhart, who knows how to navigate her way around trouble, danger, and hot pursuit are well thought out and realistic. Which of course are all elements of Phillip pullmans Awe inspiring novellette.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A startling and surprising mystery........., April 10 2002
By A Customer
You can tell after reading this book that Philip Pullman put an enormous amount of thought and planning into the context of this book. His descriptions are so vivid that you feel as if you've seen and met the person. One character he describes, Mrs. Holland, Is old and she wears her husband's ancient teeth. The way Mr. Pullman describes her makes your heart skip a beat every time he mentions her. I enjoyed this book immensely because of the fastmoving plot. I had to read the whole book before I had it all figured out. If you enjoying the fastmoving plot of Harry Potter, you would definetly enjoy this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite The Golden Compass., March 18 2002
By 
Karen K. Hart (Austin, MN United States) - See all my reviews
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I didn't feel as connected to Sally Lockhart as I did to Lyra of Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. However, the Sally Lockhart trilogy is still worth a read--it is educational (in that Pullman seems to know his London history and to really feel the pain of women who were not treated as full people) and suspenseful (in that Sally always stumbles into some sort of dangerous mystery which must be solved). I'd definitely recommend any of the Philip Pullman books I've read to anyone.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not as Good as His Dark Materials, Feb. 28 2002
By 
Abby (New Albany, IN, United States) - See all my reviews
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It was pretty good. Maybe I'm just spoiled by reading Pullman's other (wonderful, amazing) trilogy first, but it was alright. Definitely nowhere near the His Dark Materials trilogy, but we'll read the other books before we judge the trilogy, eh? This is the story of Sally Lockhart, a very capable young woman in Victorian England. Her father dies and Sally finds herself wrapped up in a mystery she knows it's up to her to solve. Sally's a likeable character and she has likeable sidekick people like Frederick the photographer and Jim the errand boy guy. Eh, it was alright.
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The Ruby in the Smoke
The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman (Paperback - Oct. 1 2004)
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