Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Steven Brust & Emma Bull

Pub Date: March 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-85974-0
Publisher: Tor

 Victorian sleuthing, though billed as fantasy, from Brust (Five Hundred Years Later, 1994, etc.) and Bull (Finder, 1994). The story of James Cobham, Chartist, revolutionary, and confidant of Friedrich Engels, one of the founders of Communism, emerges through a series of letters and journal entries. In 1849, Cobham finds himself at an inn near Portsmouth, having supposedly perished in a boating accident two months before; he has no memory of the interval, though he bears suggestive scars and injuries. He then writes to his brother, at their ancestral Melrose Hall, where Cobham's independently wealthy cousin and bold amateur detective, Susan Voight, determines to discover why someone tried to murder him and why he was held capture and deprived of his memory. Some of the answers lie in Cobham's past activities as a daring revolutionary, as Susan's sleuthing and his own returning recollections attest. Behind all the strange goings-on is a bunch of sinister occultists allied with rich foreign power-brokers, whose objectives are to disinherit Cobham in favor of old rival Alan Tournier, and to discredit the entire revolutionary movement by manipulating Cobham. Very difficult to approach, top-heavy with philosophizing, and not particularly rewarding--although characterizing it as a humdrum Victorian adventure is, ironically enough, some measure of the author's success.