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Publisher's Summary

In search of clues to the mystery of her father's death, 16-year-old Sally Lockhart ventures into the shadowy underworld of Victorian London. Pursued by villains at every turn, the intrepid Sally finally uncovers two dark mysteries, and realizes that she herself is the key to both.
Don't miss any of the Sally Lockhart mysteries.
©1985 Philip Pullman; (P)2004 Random House, Inc. Listening Library, an imprint of the Random House Audio Publishing Group

Critic Reviews

"A rip-roaring adventure story filled with cutthroat villains, dastardly deeds, sleazy opium dens, filthy London slums, and a delightful heroine....Splendid descriptions, plot twists and turns, and understated humor engage readers in this tale of murder, mayhem, and mystery." (School Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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    127
  • 2 Stars
    37
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    23

Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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    229
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    67
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    39
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    7
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    7

Story

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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    97
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    62
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    14
  • 1 Stars
    8
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  • Overall
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  • Jae
  • U.S.A.
  • 06-03-15

Head and shoulders above the rest

Pullman is so brilliant and the narrator gives a great performance. I did feel it was a story for younger people than my 45 years so I probably won't read the rest in the series but will remember them for when my son is old enough.

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Just like the movie

I came at this novel having watched and rewatched the Masterpiece Theater version with Billie Piper, Matt Smith, JJ Feild, and Hayley Atwell. I didn't even realize it had been a book first, but when I found it, I knew I had to read it. I'm a mystery and period drama fan and the Sally Lockheart mysteries combine the best of both worlds. I was pleasantly surprised to find how accurately the movie is based on the book as well.

Anton Lesser's a great narrator, very distinct, realistic voices that not only distinguish one character from another but also describe their personality so well. I started off with just this first one to see if I liked it, but I will definitely go back now and pick up the rest of the series.

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Mixed feelings on this one...

What did you like best about The Ruby in the Smoke? What did you like least?

I thought the book was interesting. There are a few moments where I felt that the characters just made ludicrous decisions and did unbelievable things. I'm not sure if I was being overly picky though. I just never fell in love with any of the characters. Sally, was difficult for me to like.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

EH.

What about Anton Lesser’s performance did you like?

The narration was fine. I enjoyed the performance.

Could you see The Ruby in the Smoke being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

Ahhh, but it is a movie on the BBC, I believe.

Any additional comments?

Eventually I may read the others, but I enjoyed the Golden Compass better.

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  • Sandrine
  • Differdange, Luxembourg
  • 05-10-13

Sally your not-so-regular Victorian adventuress

Where does The Ruby in the Smoke rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I wanted to take a break from hard crime stories and listen to something light. Well it was an enjoyable listen where the hardship of 19th century England is not right in your face but constantly swinging through. <br/><br/>The storyline is consistent and characters are very likeable. To the point you are sad when one is leaving the scene.

What does Anton Lesser bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Mr Lesser did a wonderful job and I liked that he did not emphasis on the accents too much.

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  • Story

Excellent Mystery

What did you love best about The Ruby in the Smoke?

Nice story development and an enjoyable mystery. I liked the setting and the character descriptions.

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Fast paced thriller with excellent narrator

I purchased this audio last summer and just now got to listening to it. I am sorry I waited so long because it is very good. It was an amazing story that drew me in quickly and I love the narrator's command of the accents and his enthusiastic performance. I have been thoroughly entertained and would highly recommend this to anyone of any age.

If you like the Golden Compass and wanted to read more Phillip Pullman, this is a good followup although it is a mystery rather than fantasy but Mr. Pullman has again created a resilient female lead who weathers the troubles she faces.

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An overlooked classic.

What made the experience of listening to The Ruby in the Smoke the most enjoyable?

The performance by Anton Lesser is very good - he has a great range of voices, but they're not overdone, not charicatures. Just easily distinguishable from one another.

What other book might you compare The Ruby in the Smoke to and why?

What other book? To be honest it has a flavour of the original Sherock Holmes novels. Of course, the period and the setting have a lot to do with that too, but the storyline and the characters reminded me a lot of the world of Holmes and Watson.

Which character – as performed by Anton Lesser – was your favorite?

Mrs Holland. It can't be easy to pull of a convincing "Old Woman" voice, but his is good and chilling.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I didn't laugh or cry, but I did feel the tension in the story. It's a god tale, and I enjoyed the production.

Any additional comments?

It's aimed, I thnk, at the YA market, although when it was originally released that was still referred to as "Children's books". But it has interesting characters and a solid storyline so there's no reason it can't be enjoyed by adults as well.

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  • Garret
  • Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada
  • 08-02-12

Superior Writing and Narration

Here is an intricate, suspenseful story, written with the grace of an author who appreciates the words as well as the plot. Anton Lesser is one of the best narrators out there and his character voices make the dialogue sizzle and pop. Nor does the age of the main character prevent the story from treading some disturbing ground. This is not a happily-ever-after ferry tale, thank goodness. Some of the characters are more like caricatures, but given the Dickensian setting, such quibbles are instead expected tropes that add to the reading pleasure. Do yourself a favour and listen to this book.

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great trilogy

What made the experience of listening to The Ruby in the Smoke the most enjoyable?

If you get one you must get all three. Its a great story and very well read. I really enjoyed them

What about Anton Lesser’s performance did you like?

Great performance. He really brought it to life

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Not My Cup of Tea

The story was not very interesting, too slow. The characters were not interesting. It is even hard for me to remember much about it. I have no desire to read any of the others in the trilogy.