Like many readers, I first encountered Philip Pullman through the Dark Materials trilogy. Enjoying those, I went on to read some of his older books too - and I wasn't disappointed! The Ruby In The Smoke is set in the word of Victorian penny-dreadfuls, Sax Rohmer's world of opium dens and the evil Dr Fu Manchu. Heroes are square-jawed and clean-living, villians are evil twisted crones. Everything is as it should be, and the sun never sets on the British Empire. It's not a complex book - simple virtues of honesty and loyalty to one's friends are rewarded. In the end, good triumphs over evil - but I'm sure we haven't seen the last of the evil An Lin... 4 1/2 stars, because it's not in the superlative category of The Subtle Knife, but it's still a rollicking good read.