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A Flaw in the Blood [Kindle Edition]

Stephanie Barron
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $5.01 (33%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

The acclaimed author of the bestselling Jane Austen mysteries brings rich historical immediacy to an enthralling new suspense novel centered around Queen Victoria’s troubled court…and a secret so dangerous, it could topple thrones.

Windsor Castle, 1861. For the second time in over twenty years, Irish barrister Patrick Fitzgerald has been summoned by the Queen. The first time, he’d been a zealous young legal clerk, investigating what appeared to be a murderous conspiracy against her. Now he is a distinguished gentleman at the top of his profession. And the Queen is a woman in the grip of fear. For on this chilly night, her beloved husband, Prince Albert, lies dying.

With her future clouded by grief, Fitzgerald can’t help but notice the Queen is curiously preoccupied with the past. Yet why, and how he can help, is unclear. His bewilderment deepens when the royal coach is violently overturned, nearly killing him and his brilliant young ward, Dr. Georgiana Armistead, niece of the late Dr. Snow, a famed physician who’d attended none other than Her Majesty.

Fitzgerald is sure of one thing: the Queen’s carriage was not attacked at random—it was a carefully chosen target. But was it because he rode in it? Fitzgerald won’t risk dying in order to find out. He’ll leave London and take Georgiana with him—if they can get out alive. For soon the pair find themselves hunted. Little do they know they each carry within their past hidden clues to a devastating royal secret…one they must untangle if they are to survive.

From the streets of London to the lush hills of Cannes, from the slums of St. Giles to the gilded halls of Windsor Castle, A Flaw in the Blood delivers a fascinating tale of pursuit, and the artful blend of period detail and electrifying intrigue that only the remarkable Stephanie Barron can devise.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After a slow start, all the narrative strands, among them the voice of Queen Victoria, begin to work together in this engaging historical from Barron (Jane and the Stillroom Maid and eight other Jane Austen mysteries). Against a backdrop of national mourning for Prince Albert in 1861, an evil (complete with eye patch) German count, Wolfgang von Stühlen, tracks Irish barrister Patrick Fitzgerald, who 20 years earlier defended a would-be assassin of the queen, and Fitzgerald's beautiful ward, Georgiana Georgie Armistead, who, unusually for a woman of the period, is trained as a doctor. Georgie's specialized medical knowledge comes into play as the late prince consort's concerns and his widow's fears drive the fleeing pair to France, to visit Victoria's youngest son, the sickly Prince Leopold, and on to Bavaria, the original home of the interrelated family of Victoria and Albert. (An opening genealogical chart shows that the queen and her consort were cousins.) The history of the royal line is diverting, and the royal gossip is even more so. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Barron takes a break from her Jane Austen mysteries to bring us a snapshot of Queen Victoria in a sticky wicket when Prince Albert dies at the young age of 42. It is the author’s contention that the monarch who ruled the British Empire for more than 60 years had much to hide, and as the mystery unfolds, hypotheses emerge to explain Victoria’s tight-lipped mourning and iron-fisted reign. Narrated in part by the queen herself, the tale offers a intriguing glimpse of the royal personage as she grapples with the death of her beloved Albert and interacts with a host of supporting players: the lawyer, Patrick Fitzgerald, who saved her would-be assassin; his ward, Dr. Georgiana Armistead, who insists on pursuing a cure for Prince Leo’s bleeding ailment; and an old family friend, Count von Stuhlen, whose play for power includes murder. With all the earmarks of a gothic romance—unrequited love, a murderous stormy night, guilty secrets, hopes dashed, revenge plotted—this fast-paced mystery is a winner for fans of Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney, as well as the more contemporary Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Shadow of the Wind, 2004). --Jen Baker

Product Details

  • File Size: 573 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 055380524X
  • Publisher: Bantam (February 26, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000YJ67AE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,049 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a deliciously dark read March 4, 2008
By tregatt
Hopefully Stephanie Barron isn't done with Jane Austen quite yet; in the meantime however, she's decided to delve into the Victorian era, and has successfully penned this deliciously dark and haunting novel about royal secrets and obsessions.

Even as her beloved husband, Prince Albert, lies dying, Queen Victoria mysteriously summons barrister, Patrick Fitzgerald, to Winsdor, demanding that he sign an affidavit denying every bit of evidence he had uncovered more than 20 years ago while defending the man accused of attempting to assassinate her. And when the carriage carrying his ward, the beautiful and unconventional Dr. Georgina Armistad, and himself away from Windsor Castle is brutally attacked, Patrick cannot help but wonder if the attempt on his life had anything to do with his visit to the royal household. A murderous attack on his partner in chambers and the shocking break-in at Georgina's home only confirms his suspicions. Resolved to discover why his death is suddenly so ardently desired, Patrick begins his quest to discover exactly who is after him and why, never dreaming how much his investigation could affect the fate of the current royal family...

Sweeping across the European continent, this tautly paced mystery novel was an exciting read from beginning to end -- not only was the entire mystery subplot a very riveting and exciting one, but the other two subplots that focused on Queen Victoria and the royal family, made for absorbing and compelling reading as well. I was particularly fascinated by the author's deliciously sinister portrayal of the Queen, thinking that it added a texture and darkness to the novel that made it unforgettable.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Flaw in the Plot? December 13, 2008
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The plot in A Flaw in the Blood centers around the death of Queen Victoria's beloved consort Prince Albert and the question of how hemophilia entered the Hanover-Saxe-Coburg-Gotha bloodline. If you're expecting the standard prissy widow in serious morning version of Queen Victoria be warned, this Victoria has a secret diary and isn't afraid to confide in it. The narrative is split between third-person accounts of the adventures of English Doctor Georgiana Armistead and Irish-born lawyer Patrick Flanagan, the dastardly efforts of German Count Wolfgang von Stuhlen to silence them and Victoria's secret diary. The action lives up to its "A Novel of Suspense" subtitle by constantly putting Georgiana and Patrick in mortal danger, usually at the hands of von Stuhlen. But is he acting on Victoria's orders or is she just another mark in his game?

I'm hard pressed to explain exactly what didn't work for me in this book without giving away key plot points. I don't want to do that because this book isn't bad at all, it's decently written and I'm sure many an intelligent mystery fan would find it enjoyable. So I'll try to convey my reservations without treading too close to the plot. The writing in general is solid. Barron does occasionally write dialog in phonetic dialect, something that bugs me beyond measure when it's over done but it was tolerable here.

There are a few problems here thought and chief among them being the characterizations of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, both of which strain credibility. It's ingenuous, I suppose, to have the Little Miss Perfect who ruled England for over 60 years be diabolically ruthless but I couldn't quite swallow that. Strong-willed, spoiled and a little wacky after Albert died, yes. Sex-obsessed and potentially murderous? Not so much.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Victoria was not amused. March 2, 2008
Stephanie Barron's "A Flaw in the Blood" opens in 1860. Something has caused Queen Victoria's Consort, Prince Albert, to fall into a deep depression. "He had wanted death. He had gone out that morning hunting for it." A year later, Albert is gravely ill, supposedly with typhoid (although his symptoms point to a far different malady). Victoria summons an Irish barrister named Patrick Fitzgerald to Windsor Palace. She makes no effort to hide her disdain for Fitzgerald, calling him "an uncouth lackey of the Irish rabble." Patrick incurred Victoria's eternal wrath in 1840 when he disseminated scandalous accusations implicating the Royal family in an assassination attempt on the Queen. Twenty years later, Victoria orders Fitzgerald to sign a paper stating that his statements were "nothing more than a fabrication of [his] own treacherous Irish mind." Patrick refuses, thus setting the stage for what proves to be a "battle royal."

Patrick's ward is twenty-six year old Georgiana Armistead, a woman twenty years his junior with whom he has fallen in love. Her previous guardian, the late Dr. John Snow, was a legendary figure who traced the 1854 cholera outbreak in London to a particular water pump on Broad Street. Snow was a genius, whose work inspired Georgie to study medicine in Edinburgh. Now she chooses to treat the poorest patients in London's most wretched and unsanitary slums. Patrick had promised Snow that he would keep an eye on Georgie, but she is a fiercely independent individual who answers to no one but herself. Soon Patrick discovers, much to his woe, how ill-advised it is to ignore Victoria's commands. The Queen dispatches the sadistic Wolfgang Graf von Stuhlen and his henchmen to hunt down and kill Patrick, Georgiana, and others whom she deems a threat to her rule.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars A Flaw in the Book
The book arrived to me in good shape and in a timely manner but it is truly just an awful, boring, confusing book. I read this for book club and about 3/4 of us just hated it. Read more
Published 3 months ago by A. Shaffer
3.0 out of 5 stars Historical Fiction, Mystery intertwined families
3 stars. It was a book someone from my book club choose for our Dec read. I'm a pretty avid reader so that's why the 3 stars. Not the best and not the worst book. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Nookomis
3.0 out of 5 stars Well, this is different...
I've enjoyed Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen mysteries, so I thought I'd try this one. Whew! She knows her stuff, historically, but wow, lots and lots of violence in this one. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Sally Young
2.0 out of 5 stars Gothic suspense, not the best I've read
I've read a bunch of historical mystery novels over the years, and more than a few suspense novels also. Read more
Published 20 months ago by David W. Nicholas
3.0 out of 5 stars Chilling Splendor
A struggle of character and nobility in a sinister world of privilege. I loved every moment and finished with great satisfaction. S B is a treasure.
Published 23 months ago by R C La Gro
4.0 out of 5 stars An elegantly written historical mystery that's not for fans of Queen...
First Line: When the agony of the state dinner was over and his wife was preoccupied with the other women, he ceased to talk quite so feverishly before the crowd of people who'd... Read more
Published on December 3, 2012 by Cathy G. Cole
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant interpretation of a true mystery
Stephanie turns from her delightfully witty Jane Austen series to an investigation of the early death of Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria, and embraces the search for the... Read more
Published on December 3, 2012 by Cornelia W. Bush
5.0 out of 5 stars No Flaw in This Story
This is one of those books you read that you know should be made into a movie. I've read and enjoyed Barron's Jane Austen Mystery Series, but this book is an entirely different... Read more
Published on September 23, 2012 by LRR
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Fiction
Let me start by saying I am an historian, specializing in the Victorian era. Naturally, then, I was hooked at the get-go by the subject matter of this novel. Read more
Published on August 30, 2012 by Kai Roberts
4.0 out of 5 stars A Royal Plot!
When you read the title of this book you can almost guess what it's about and it involves the hemophilia condition that was carried by Queen Victoria to potential heirs. Read more
Published on March 13, 2012 by prairie woman
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More About the Author


Stephanie Barron is a graduate of Princeton and Stanford, where she studied history. She is perhaps best known for the critically-acclaimed Jane Austen Mystery Series, in which the intrepid and witty author of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE details her secret detective career in Regency England. JANE AND THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS, the twelfth Austen mystery, is forthcoming from Soho October 28, 2014. A former intelligence analyst for the CIA, Stephanie--who also writes under the name Francine Mathews--drew on her experience in the field of espionage for such novels as JACK 1939, which The New Yorker described as "the most deliciously high-concept thriller imaginable." She lives and works in Denver, CO.


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