The Blackstone Key by Rose Melikan

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The Blackstone Key by Rose Melikan

Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A romp of a tale with an intriguing mystery set at the end of the eighteenth century will appeal more to women than to men but makes for a good leisurely read.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: April 2008
Publisher: Sphere
ISBN: 978-1847441331

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In 1795 England had already been at war with Republican France for two years. Mary Finch was a teacher at Mrs Bunbury's school – a job she disliked – so she was pleased when she received an invitation from her uncle to visit him in Suffolk, despite the dangers of travelling in war time. Her uncle and her late father had been estranged for some twenty years and Mary was pleased that it seemed that the rift was finally to he healed.

The journey wasn't was easy or without its dangers as Mary was to find out. The stage coach came upon an accident and Mary tried to help a dying man. But why did he have her uncle's watch and what was the meaning of his whispered warnings? What too was behind the attentions of the two men who were so keen to help her?

It's a romp of a tale with smugglers and attacks in the darkened house where Mary arrived to find that her uncle had recently died. Is Captain Holland the poor-but-honest soldier that he seems to be or could his need for money tempt him into spying for the French? Should Mary trust him or Déprez, the wealthy and assured man from St Lucia staying with the local magistrate?

It's a fascinating picture of England at the end of the eighteenth century with all the tensions about a possible French invasion and there's interesting details about the state of the munitions industry here and in France. It's delivered with a light touch and never strays into exposition.

The writing is simple and direct with some feisty characters. It would be difficult not to warm to Mary Finch and although she dominates the book there's a good supporting cast of rounded characters. But for the fact that the plot lacks pace in the middle sections I'd happily give the book to an older confident reader – I suspect that they might lose interest and miss a very good ending. It will probably appeal more to women than to men because of the (admittedly underplayed) romantic interest but it's a good, leisurely read with an intriguing mystery.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending the book to The Bookbag.

If this period appeals to you then we can recommend Jupiter Williams by S I Martin.

Buy The Blackstone Key by Rose Melikan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Blackstone Key by Rose Melikan at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Blackstone Key by Rose Melikan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Blackstone Key by Rose Melikan at Amazon.com.


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