This book would be a 4.5 star rating for me, if that were possible. I think I enjoyed this moody, atmospheric look at 18th century London, and the life of its aspiring but class-bound tradespersons, artisans, and servants, as much as the mystery itself (which properly remained a mystery, at least to me, until the end). There are some really interesting, fairly well-fleshed out characters populating the narrative as well--none are entirely sympathetic, which is surely intentional, though it left me with a slightly melancholic tone despite the resolution of the mystery. A really pleasurable read for this lover of historical fiction/mystery, and I look forward to more from Ms. Tobin.
Interesting account of the period in English history, reflecting the marked inequity of status between the genders and social classes. The exposure of the murderer remains pretty well until the final pages
A brilliant book.Ms.Tobin throws a new light on life in fashionable London. She suggests that it is the men who are the gossips either by chatter in coffee houses or taverns or writing diaries. The women may appear to be imprisoned inside their houses but silently they can act as they wish provided they still have the money and not trheir husbands. Historians go searching for searching for texts in letters and diaries to build up a picture of eighteenth century London life and they forget that it is the nature of women to be quiet and for men to go out and get drunk and start shouting and getting into fights.The two women who are at the centre of the novel Mary and Harriet are not talkative and it is only in the carefully constructed bits which Ms.Tobin has inserted that we see them as women who have to act decisively when the time comes. The difficulty with the novel is the insertion of the Renard entries which Ms.Tobin could have either omitted in whole or in part because they are confusing to a reader .It is understandable that the author wants to show that Renard has the personality to bring in the customers who will buy the silverware.and making him a Frenchman at a time when England regarded the French who had executed their KIng recently with probably some hostility. Tobin has a deep knowledge of that period of London history and hopefully she can do another book on Regency London
Although a competent murder / mystery story there was not as much intrigue and plot twists that would have added to the drama of the plot. The characters were not sufficiently developed to encourage the reader to care enough about them.