A debut that combines Victorian romance and murder mystery, both rendered rather silly by its far-fetched premise.
Narrator Nicollette Caron possesses a phenomenally fast heartbeat and manages to kill her lovers in the heat of passion. Wealthy and irresistible, the 19-year-old Frenchwoman in 1891 lives in London with her trusty servant Marie, who regularly must dispose of the dead men who wouldn’t take Nicollette’s “no” for an answer. To date, there are 13 victims of her love. It’s a terrible secret to bear, though she refuses to feel responsible for their deaths since it’s really not her fault—and what the heck, they die happy. When she moves on to Glastonbury to start fresh, a soothsayer reveals to Nicollette that she will meet her match in a man who is also a barrister. This sets up readers to wonder whether the barrister for her will be the most eligible bachelor in Glastonbury, Lord Baston (who tends toward shadowy nocturnal dealings with women and might even be Jack the Ripper), or Scotland Yard inspector Jackson Lang, who owns an incomparable Lippizan stallion called Pegasus and is already onto Nicollette (as well as smitten by her). Nicollette inadvertently knocks off a few more bedmates before being apprehended, incarcerated in Newgate and sensationally tried in court. Hitchcock goes for gritty detail in her depiction of torture and rape in Newgate, as well as the “hoods, ropes, and horror” involved in hangings. Her equally graphic treatment of Nicollette’s sordid history makes it hard to feel much for her.
Titillating, but that’s about it.