Sunday, August 27, 2023

The Age of Steam and Conspiracy

Wrexford and Sloan #7
Andrea Penrose
Kensington Books
September 26, 2023

Lord Wrexford sets out quickly to Oxford when he receives a message from an old friend, Greeley, a Librarian at Merton College Library. More important, he was the dearest friend of Wrexford's younger brother, Thomas. Thomas was killed in a French ambush in Portugal during the Napoleonic Wars, and Wrexford has always felt guilty that he was not there to save him. Greeley was the only survivor, grievously wounded in both body and spirit. Wrexford would never ignore a request from Greeley. Upon his arrival, he finds that the librarian has been murdered and a valuable manuscript is missing.

Meanwhile, in London, Lady Charlotte is investigating a possible arson fire at a laboratory under her pen name, AJ Quill.
 This is the age of steam; Stephen Fulton has just introduced the steam paddleboat in America to great success and acclaim. The British are all in on developing an ocean-going steamboat. As was the custom, consortiums are being formed to reap the benefits. Some of the consortiums have dubious characters involved, and Charlotte wants to get to the bottom of them, especially since their friend, Kit Sheffield, is tempted to join one of the most dubious.

As always, the burgeoning world of science is at the heart of the Wrexford and Sloane mysteries. The Regency era brought many new scientific advances and new ways to cheat others out of their wealth. In this particular entry, I found myself lost in all the theories of propulsion from DaVinci to more modern theorists. However, the cast of characters redeems that. Time spent in the company of the Wrexfords, their formerly street urchin wards, Raven and Hawk, and Peregrine, the new addition, Peregrine, is well-spent. It is an unconventional family, but a family nonetheless. We even get answers about Charlotte's taciturn housekeeper, Mac, and a resolution to just who was responsible for the death of Thomas in the ambush that killed him.

Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING- 3.5 Stars

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