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The author of over a hundred romances and mysteries (Full Stop, p. 410, etc.) introduces the Berkeley Brigade--a four-person group of friends who are neighbors in Regency London--as they set out to find the priceless pearl necklace stolen from one of their number: Corinne, Lady de Coventry--a widow at 21 and due, by law, to deliver the pearls to her late husband's family in a few days. The pearls were stolen by a guest dressed as Robin Hood, at a masquerade ball given by man-about-town Lord Luten, unofficial leader of the clique that includes Corinne, her cousin Coffen Pattie, and Sir Reginald Prance, an intelligent dandy. The four question London's jewelers and known fences about the pearls, then try to find the source of the costume worn by the thief. But the episode takes on a threatening air when Rosie Grimm, the woman who may have provided the outfit, is found strangled, and the man who wore it is later found shot to death. Luten is sure that Harry, Corinne's feckless young nephew, is behind it all and goes to elaborate lengths to prove it, while Corinne tries to make contact with the redheaded woman who accompanied the masquerading thief, putting herself in danger from an unexpected source. A constant flow of carriage trips, lunches, dinners, balls, theaters, and various assignations define the period's upper class, but the plot and dialogue here turn vapid and silly long before the hackneyed finale. No treat for romance or mystery fans.

Pub Date: July 9th, 1996
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's