This book seems to have won grand reviews all over. I hope you believe them so that you will order my copy. But in all honesty...the character development is just plain awful. Everyone is a caricature of Old England except for the hero -- an entirely modern creature who so admiringly fights sexism, racism, imperialism, oppression and bad taste or anything else that offends our sensibilities. And the "dense" and "challenging" mystery can be solved from a mile away as soon as the author lets the clues drop. Avoid the hype, save your credit for something else.
Bought this at an airport, then on the plane discovered I had already read it. But I read it again anyway and enjoyed it just as much the second time. Cruz is an interesting writer and I've read 4 of his books. This combines mystery and history. Check him out.
The story is set in the English coal producing town of Wegan in the 1870's. It starts out with a British engineer who longs to return to Africa and to his little daughter. But first he must solve a mystery of the disappearance of the fiance of the Bishops daughter in order to earn the money for his passage.
One of the interesting aspects of this tale is the view of the class structure during the Victorian period and the insights into British culture. This book is charming and suspenseful and will keep you guessing until the very end.
For Jonathan Blair nothing could be more repulsive than trekking to the dreary coal town of Wigan, England. But to earn passage back to his beloved Africa, he must discover what happened to the missing Reverend Maypole.
Smith is one of my favorite authors! This is set in the 1800s in a small coal town in England. A delightful read. I found the lead character Blair reminds me a lot of Arkady Renko, the hero in the series of books that Smith is probably best known for. If you are a Reno fan than you should read this. If you have not read Smith yet, I think this book is a good indication of his style.
The year is 1872. The place is Wigan, England - a nineteenth-century town in the coal-mining district of Lancashire. Into this dark, complicated world where wealthy mine owners live like royalty alongside miners who are treated no better than slaves, comes Jonathan Blair, a mining engineer who has accepted a commission to find a missing man. Recently returned from Africa's Gold Coast, Jonathan finds his native England utterly depressing and soon falls into melancholy and alcoholism.
Desperate to return to Africa, Jonathan agrees to investigate the disappearance of a local curate who was engaged to marry the daughter of Jonathan's patron. As he begins his search, every road leads back to one woman - a haughty, vixenish pit girl named Rose. With her fiery hair and skirts pinned up over trousers, she cares nothing for a society that call her unnatural, scandalous and a 'loose' woman.
As Rose and Jonathan circle one another, first warily, then with the heat of mutual desire, Blair loses his balance. And the lull induced by Rose's sensual touch leaves Jonathan totally unprepared for the bizarre, soul-scorching truth.
I found that this book was very interesting, although the ending was extremely convoluted. I had to find out what happened in the book, even though I couldn't really understand the mining practices of 19th-century England that were written about in such detail. I give this book an A!