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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Tuesday, January 9, 2018


A Mortal Likeness (Victorian Mysteries #2)    by Laura Joh Rowland


Unlikely compatriots and fellow private detectives Sarah Bain and Lord Hugh Staunton, are thrown into, well are lured into really, the case of a kidnapped young child, Robin Mariner. The beloved son of wealthy banker and hard nosed businessman Sir Gerald Mariner, a friend to those in high places, has gone missing. Sir Gerald hires them with a retainer they cannot resist. He insists on a confidentiality clause which puts Sarah immediately at odds with her beau, Police Constable Thomas Barrett and Inspector Reid. After the Ripper debacle, Reid is harbouring a deep grudge against both Sarah and Hugh. He figuratively froths at the mouth whenever he lays eyes on them. And that's a lot of frothing with this latest case!
The thing is Sarah and Hugh are also seen in an area where they should not have been, so suspicion for a double murder falls on them.
Tied up in all this is Sarah's painstaking search for the father she'd grown up believing was dead. As she slowly inches forward with that so personal and painful endeavour, more information comes to light that strikes a blow to her heart and her faith in the type of man she believed her father to be.
There's coil within coil that unwinds like a striking snake. In the case of the missing Robin. Who is to be believed, who is to be trusted? What of the family members and associates, the servants and trusted companions? How many cards are in the deck and where do Sir Gerald's loyalties lie?
In turns, the story is both complex and harrowing as the search for Robin continues and close friendships are stretched to breaking point.
The underlining perceptions of Victorian England, attitudes and fears are highlighted through the main characters who just don't fit in--Sarah, Hugh and Mick, and through the machinations of Sir Gerald, the government and their representatives.
Rowland's portrayals of the places and people of these times are magnificent.

A NetGalley ARC


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