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.
on 14 July 2013
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.