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Petty Treason (Sarah Tolerance Mystery) [Mass Market Paperback]

Madeline E. Robins
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

19 Jun 2006 Sarah Tolerance Mystery (Book 2)
Miss Sarah Tolerance is an Agent of Inquiry, a private investigator of sorts - the sole one of her kind in 1810 London. Her aim was to trace lost trinkets, send wastrel husbands back to their wives, and provide protection to persons with more money than sense-but she is continually drawn into the plots of others. Her newest case poses a puzzle unlike any she has faced before: who killed the Chevalier d'Aubigny? The French emigre was beaten to death in his own bed and found by his retainers the next morning, all the doors and windows sealed tight. It's a classic locked-room mystery, but Miss Tolerance knows she can find the key. As Miss Tolerance examines the situation, she realizes things are far more complicated than she originally suspected, for the Chevalier had far more enemies than he had friends. Her search for his killer takes her from the lowest brothels of the London underworld, where men go to indulge their more aggressive desires, to the Royal Family and a Duke who must hide his perversions or risk the Throne.

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; New edition edition (19 Jun 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765343061
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765343062
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.7 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,398,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"Well realised... a most pleasing and agreeable series." - Publisher's Weekly."

About the Author

Madeleine E. Robins is certified as an actor combatant in rapier, quarterstaff, broadsword, and hand-to-hand fighting, and was a member of a troupe of actors who perform Shakespeare scenes with combat for high schools and Renaissance festivals. Madeleine is a New Yorker by birth, training, and inclination, but recently relocated to San Francisco, where she now lives with her husband (Emmy Award-winning sound editor Danny Caccavo), and their two daughters. She authored the "New York Times" Notable Book "The Stone War," several Regency romances, and many short stories. "Petty Treason" is her second novel to feature Miss Sarah Tolerance, Agent of Inquiry.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, even better than the first book 9 Jan 2009
By L. J. Roberts TOP 1000 REVIEWER
First Sentence: It is one thing, and a quite considerable thing, to be a lady.

Private Inquiry Agency Ms, Sarah Tolerance, has been hired by a man to prove his sister innocent of murdering her husband. The victim, Chevalier D'Aubigny, was a man of unpleasant appetites but, in spite of Bow Street's claims, she does not believe the young widow capable of hiring someone to commit murder.

Sarah's investigation takes her from the salons of the social elite to back alley slums, twice nearly costing her life and, in her resolve to find the truth, causing harm to her friendship the Magistrate Sir Walter Mandif.

Sarah Tolerance is a wonderful addition to the list of strong, smart, independent female protagonists. What makes it even more delightful is the period in which she is set. A fallen woman and niece of the owner of a brothel, she has chosen to go her own way and, have learned to fence and occasional dressing in man's clothing, become an inquiry agent.

I do take a bit of exception to Ms. Robins creativity with some rather important points of history, but the story is so good, I am prepared to view the book as fiction in past times rather than strict historical fiction--a fine distinction, I realize. With that, however, the author does a wonderful job of conveying the period and life of the people within all classes. The style of writing and dialogue enhance the setting. While not strictly of the period, there is enough sense of it to contribute to the illusion.

The story is well plotted. It goes from a murder to overtones of espionage, but without losing the focus of the crime. It was, for me, a one-sitting read, mainly because I needed to know the outcome, which came from a well-done twist at the end.

Although I enjoyed Ms. Robin's first book, I found this to be a much better and more satisfying read. I look forward to Sarah's next case.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Miss Tolerance 14 July 2013
By D A G
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Excellent character. Good research into the everyday life of the ordinary people, you can practically smell and cringe at the filthy streets.

Sarah Tolerance is so likeable with her no nonsense approach hiding quite a vulnerable centre. Brave and resourceful she doesn't cower from going into the worse areas armed with her trusty sword and pistol. Efficient investigator, I hope the Inspector becomes rather more than a friend so Sarah has someone to lean on. More stories please.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "unputdownable" -- it was that good a read 23 Sep 2004
By tregatt - Published on
Fast paced, exciting and thrilling, this latest Sarah Tolerance (pre) Regency-era mystery novel was a treat to read from start to finish. Stuck on a 'plane for an uncomfortable 9 hours, having this wonderfully absorbing and unputdownable book to read was a godsend! Madeline E. Robbins has created a rather unique new series (only two books in the series so far) that every historical mystery lover should read. And her heroine is totally out of the ordinary too: intelligent, independent, intriguing and likable. SIT UP AND TAKE NOTICE: THIS IS NOT A SERIES TO BE MISSED!

All of London is shocked and agog about the brutal murder of Chevalier d'Aubigny -- somehow a murderer had gained access to the Chevalier's London house and savagely beat the man to death in his own while his entire household. How was the murderer able to get in and out of a locked house without detection? And how was he able to commit so brutal a crime without awakening any in the house? Worried that the murderer may come after his sister, the Chevalier's wife, Mr. Colcannon hires Miss Sarah Tolerance, a private inquiry agent to discover who murdered the Chevalier and to protect his sister's interests. Soon, Miss Tolerance finds herself moving about both amongst both the high and low of society as she tries to discover more about the murdered man -- what kind of man he really was and who his friends and enemies were. And what she discovers (almost at once) dismays her: for while the Chevalier was not a well liked man, the person with the biggest motive for seeing him dead was his wife, her client. But Miss Tolerance instinctively knows that her client was incapable of so brutal a murder no matter the provocation. And determined to protect the helpless widow, goes after the truth with a vengeance.

From the very start I was hooked. "Petty Treason" was a swiftly paced and suspenseful read, full of interesting twists and turns, and with some truly fascinating red herring suspects. The storyline was an intriguing and captivating one, and was very well crafted indeed. Also well done was the manner in which the author allowed for the level of suspense and tension to gradually build. But what really hooked my interest was the character of Robins' heroine, Sarah Tolerance. Intelligent, frighteningly capable and compassionate, Miss Tolerance engages the reader's interest on every level -- in spite of the author's tendency to refer to her heroine as "Miss Tolerance," something that manages to distance the reader from the heroine, I thought. All in all though, if you're looking for a thrilling, exciting, action-packed novel, with a fascinating heroine, and that vividly (and accurately) portrays life in the early 19th century London, you'll want to read "Petty Treason." A truly unputdownable book.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable mystery set in an alternate Regency 28 Jun 2006
By Richard R. Horton - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Petty Treason is set in a somewhat altered England, in about 1810. The main alteration concerns increased power for George III's Queen, and a concomitant increase in the rights of women -- not to say that their status is all that much better than in the real 1810. But Robins' heroine, Sarah Tolerance, a Fallen Woman (ruined as a result of running off with a lover who subsequently died), is at least able to make a living as an agent of inquiry, and also to do such things as attend a club alone, fence, and wear men's clothes on occasion. The other effect of the books being alternate history is to allow Robins to have her characters directly affect the politics of the time without violating established history. The real pleasure of the books is in their detective stories, their evocation of a historical time, and in their engaging characters. Which is to say, they are likely to be enjoyed by fans of detective novels like Anne Perry's Victorian-set novels, and the late Kate Ross's post-Regency books about Julian Kestrel.

I found Petty Treason to be very enjoyable (as I did its predecessor). In this book Sarah Tolerance is engaged by a gentleman from the country to protect his sister, after her husband is found murdered in his bed. The husband is a French emigré, and, it soon transpires, a very unpleasant man. He appears to be a sadist and a spendthrift. The wife is a very naive and countrified lady, and appears overwhelmed by her position, hardly aware of the truism that in a murder the spouse is the first suspect.

Miss Tolerance's investigation leads her to some of the darker aspects of the London sex trade. She also encounters some shadowy figures of the French emigré community -- which, given that England is at war with Napoleon's France, brings the title of the book into some focus. (It turns out, which I didn't know, that petty (or petit) treason has another meaning which is also important.) And her situation is complicated by friction with the official magistrate assigned to the case, with another magistrate who has been her friend, and with her Aunt and host, a quasi-respectable Madam.

As I said, I quite enjoyed it. The novel ends with a couple of half-predictable but satisfying twists. The main characters continue to hold our interest. And the prose is strong, and on occasion delightful (as with the opening paragraphs, a nicely composed set piece).
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent look into Regency England and the role of women 3 Jan 2005
By booksforabuck - Published on
Fallen woman Sarah Tolerance makes her living as an investigator and it's no huge surprise when an anxious brother contacts her to investigate his brother-in-law's murder. Not that anyone really regrets the death of the French emigre who tortured his wife and others, spent more money than he made, and spent his time in dangerous company. Finding the killer soon takes second place to keeping the victim's widow, Anne d'Aubigny, from the pursuit of English Law--law that was especially vigilent against that most horrible of crimes--a wife's murder of her husband.

Sarah's investigation soon puts her in harm's way--she is attacked in the street, as is one of her witnesses. Undeterred by the attacks, she continues her search and finds a second mystery--the victim had recently found himself with some level of wealth--without any apparent source. The more Sarah looks, the more it appears that there are layers of complexity hidden, that the d'Aubigny murder is only a part of a plot that might threaten England itself--at a time when every resource is stretched to support the ongoing war against the French and Napoleon.

Author Madeleine E. Robins provides a fascinating look at Regency-era England, diving below the manners and misunderstandings of most Regency writings to examine how a woman might make her way in a time when sexism was viewed as natural and when a woman without a man's protection was seen as fair game. Robins' strong writing engages the reader and draws us into a mystery that continues to reveal new depths--leading from a simple murder to possible treason against the nation itself. The sharp twist at the end left me, at least, nodding with appreciation.

I look forward to reading more mysteries by Robins.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like its predecessor, this book is solid, entertain and unique 30 Jun 2007
By Lilly Flora - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
With her first book, "Point of Honour" author Madeleine E. Robins established an almost perfect period mystery heroine. Sara Tolerance is smart, but not always correct the first time around, unusual (she sword fights and lives in the backyard of a brothel her aunt runs) and just stiff enough to fit in with the time period (which is, if you don't know, a slightly alternative late Georgian England.) These qualities are essential not only in a good mystery novel, but in the new genre of historical mysteries which has become increasing popular in the last few years.

Like "Point of Honour" "Petty Treason" focuses on one of on the case Sara Tolerance takes on to make ends meet. In this case she is hired by the brother in law of a French émigré who had his scull based in in his bed. The man was a sexual sadist and his brother and law wants to ensure that his sister, the widow, is cleared of the crime and protected from those who committed it.

But because the man is from France (which only recently went through its revolution) a whole new bunch of problems popped up. Is the murdered man a French spy? An English spy for France? Was he murdered by his mistress for his cruelty, or one of his servants who loved his wife and hated how they treated him? There are a number of possibilities because everyone hated this man (which does make for a good mystery.)

Though the plot is good, like the last book this one has its problems. The writing is still stiff, but that seems to be the author's style. Once again there is too much discussing of "fallen women" and how they are treated, portrayed...ect. One thing I did like though was that there is no actual rehashing of the last book in this one, as there is in so many sequels (you know, that couple of paragraphs that discusses what went one previously...I hate that.)

So just like its predecessor, I rate this book four stars. It's solid, entertain and unique and I recommend it if you're into history or mystery.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent Regency mystery 12 Sep 2004
By Harriet Klausner - Published on
In 1810, A flustered Mr. Colcannon on the advice of a friend visits the only female Agent of Inquiry Sarah Tolerance who chose that profession over her other choice of whoring. Colcannon hires Sarah to discreetly investigate the murder of his brother-in-law, French aristocratic émigré Chevalier d'Aubigny. The culprit beat the victim so brutally in his bed until he died and then some in a fancier part of London where homicides never occur.

Sarah wearing her male garb and carrying her sword learns quickly that d'Aubigny frequented brothels where he abused the Fallen as he also did his spouse. Sarah makes the rounds of the whorehouses, but quickly realizes that she stopped him from accosting a prostitute Anne the night he died. When Anne is arrested for homicide, as a POINT OF HONOR Sarah digs deeper because she is convinced the young woman is innocent. However, apparently half the city including his wife detested the French emigrant enough to want him dead.

This excellent Regency mystery brings to life the decadence of the aristocracy and the limited choices women have. The who-done-it is terrific as Sarah is a delightful lead protagonist. The number of suspects ranges the social classes of London so that the audience struggles as to whether the killer is family, upper class outside of his in-laws, or a whore he abused. Fans of historical mysteries will enjoy sleuthing the streets of London along side the intrepid Sarah.

Harriet Klausner
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