Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Death at Dawn by Caro Peacock

Duelling, derring-do, and dastardly deeds are all in a day's work for Liberty Lane: a new heroine for fans of Matthew Hawkwood and Sarah Waters's Victorian novels.

June 1837. She should have remained in the care of her sour aunt, but Liberty Lane was never one to obey instructions. Eager to be reunited with her beloved father, she headed for Dover, only to receive an informing her that he has been killed in a duel at Calais.

Thomas Jacques Lane -- radical, romantic, scholar, republican, gambler and devoted father -had led an unconventional life. His movements in the days leading up to his death are a mystery, but of one thing Liberty is certain: he would never have taken part in a duel, for it went against everything he believed in. And if the author of the anonymous note expected her to swallow this lie and meekly obey his command to stay put, he had severely underestimated Liberty Lane.

With no resources bar her own wits, she immediately sets sail for Calais in pursuit of the truth - and her father's killer. And as the nation prepares to celebrate the coronation of young Queen Victoria, Liberty uncovers a treasonable plot which could lead to another vicious civil war...

Being a somewhat headstrong and impetuous young woman, when Liberty Lane receives a note telling her that her father has been killed in a duel in Calais, and that she should stay where she is, she crosses the channel and tries to find out exactly what happened to her father. She knows that he can not have been killed in a duel, as it is very much against her father's beliefs. Thomas Lane was something of a radical in his thoughts, following the beliefs of the French Revolution, hence his children are named Liberty and Fraternity! That being said, he was not one of those men who believed in any course of action to bring about a fulfilment of his cause.

In the course of her investigation, Liberty finds herself caught up in several strange situations, including being kidnapped. She also finds herself the owner of a new horse with impeccable breeding. along with the man that her father engaged to look after the horse in Paris. Having come into contact with several different people, Liberty finds herself sent to be spy in a household that has suspicious activities in it. Now Liberty must figure out who is on what side of the political divide and what it all has to do with the death of her father.

This was quite an easy read, and it did have a very interesting premise, which is all to do with the time just as a very young Victoria came to the throne. I have no idea if the kind of conspiracy theory that is suggested was really doing the rounds, but I guess it was a plausible storyline.

As always it is often more difficult to write a review of a book that was average than one that you either loved or hated! I am sufficiently interested in the character to want to read more in the series, although I am not sure how long I would keep reading without a little more to entice me! I am not sure if part of the issue for me is that I read the first book by Tasha Alexander which has a similar time frame, and is another young lady (although slightly older than Liberty in this book). There do seem to be several different mystery series around with a Victorian setting at the moment.

When I was trying to see if there was a website or anything for this author, I couldn't find very much at all, but I did find something that suggested that this is a new pseudonym for a writer who used to write under the name of Gillian Linscott.

Thanks to the First Look program at Harper Collins Australia for sending me this book for review!

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