Petty Treason (Sarah Tolerance Mystery) Mass Market Paperback – 19 Jun 2006
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"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.
Top Customer Reviews
Unusual slant in Regency history but enjoyable none the less. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
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.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.