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Monday, April 30, 2012

A Former Pinkerton Spy On A Case in India? Intriguing, Indeed.

(Image from Deseret Book)
Isabelle Webb, a former Pinkerton spy, is still reeling after the recent assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.  She blames herself for failing to warn him, failing to save the great man from the bullet that took his life.  A vacation is exactly what the 26-year-old needs to take her mind off her part in the tragedy.  Accompanied by Sally Rhodes, her 16-year-old ward, Isabelle heads to Bombay aboard a steamer ship.  While en route to their destination, the women meet James Ashby, a Mormon blacksmith from Utah, who's traveling to India in the hopes of locating his younger brother.  Phillip Ashby, a charming but senseless 20-year-old, has disappeared while hunting down a mythical jewel in the company of a known shyster.

Although she has retired from the cloak and dagger life of a spy, Isabelle can't quite restrain her interest in the mystery.  She knows she should mind her own business, but the more she gets to know the serious-minded James, the more endearing she finds him.  And, the more she ponders Phillip's disappearance, the more she realizes how much she misses the rush of the career she's left behind.  So, with Sally in tow, Isabelle offers her sleuthing services to a reluctant, but grateful James.

It's not long before James has amassed a small group of searchers, an intriguing set of strangers, all of whom are intent on finding young Phillip.  While all members of the party insist they are helping only out of the goodness of their hearts, Isabelle questions their motives, especially as the journey becomes increasingly more dangerous.  Someone, it seems, is more intent on finding the jewel Phillip is hunting than the man himself and that person will stop at nothing to get the precious stone.  Even if it means killing a nosy former spy in the process.  With her life in danger, Isabelle must find the traitor—before it's too late.

Before picking up Legend of the Jewel, I'd never read anything by N.C. (Nancy Campbell) Allen.  A shame, because, apparently, she began writing about Isabelle and her cohorts in her popular Faith of Our Fathers series.  No matter.  Legend of the Jewel works well as a standalone, but even better as the first installment in an exciting new series.  Isabelle's a compelling heroine, someone who's tough, though grieving and vulnerable.  The romance between her and James develops in a believable manner, while never feeling dull or stale.  Although this is LDS historical fiction, it's not preachy (really, it hardly mentions religion at all); it's just a fun, clean mystery that's well-written and entertaining.  I loved it.    

(Readalikes:  Reminded me of the Amelia Peabody mysteries by Elizabeth Peters)

Grade:  B+

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  PG for some violence and mild sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I bought Legend of the Jewel from Deseret Book with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

1 comment:

  1. I might be interested in trying this one. Do you still share? :)


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