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Clementine Hardcover – Unabridged, July 30, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Piracy meets politics head-on in this steampunk thriller, loosely linked to Priest's much-lauded Boneshaker (2009). Maria Isabella Boyd, a notorious former actress and Confederate spy, is on her first mission for the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. The airship Clementine must deliver its cargo unimpeded, but its former owner, escaped slave–turned–air pirate Croggon Hainey, is determined to recover the ship he stole fair and square. A simple pursuit quickly evolves, and soon Maria and Croggon are forced to fight on the same side. Explosive battle scenes, riveting action, and a sharp-eyed examination of the mistrust between Croggon's all-black crew and very white, very Southern Maria play out in a desperate race against the clock. Though the unflinching portrayal of complex race relations is aimed at adult readers, Priest's swashbuckling tale is also quite accessible for older teens. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Inside Flap
Maria Isabella Boyds success as a Confederate spy has made her too famous for further espionage work, and now her employment options are slim. Exiled, widowed, and on the brink of poverty she reluctantly goes to work for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in Chicago.Adding insult to injury, her first big assignment is commissioned by the Union Army. In short, a federally sponsored transport dirigible is being violently pursued across the Rockies and Uncle Sam isnt pleased. The Clementine is carrying a top secret load of military essentialsessentials which must be delivered to Louisville, Kentucky, without delay.Intelligence suggests that the unrelenting pursuer is a runaway slave whos been wanted by authorities on both sides of the Mason-Dixon for fifteen years. In that time, Captain Croggon Beauregard Hainey has felonied his way back and forth across the continent, leaving a trail of broken banks, stolen war machines, and illegally distributed weaponry from sea to shining sea.And now its Marias job to go get him.Hes dangerous quarry and shes a dangerous woman, but when forces conspire against them both, they take a chance and form an alliance. She joins his crew, and he uses her connections. She follows his orders. He takes her advice.And somebody, somewhere, is going to rue the day he crossed either one of them.
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Although this can more or less be read as a standalone, it was nice to see mentions of characters and events from the other two "Clockwork Century" titles that I've read so far, and I'm sure there will be similar tie-ins in the remaining installments. I would love to see Priest's "Clockwork Century" on the big screen someday, and Clementine would probably be a great jumping-off point.
The story was, as mentioned before, fairly brief. It should not have been in any other way. As it is, it sets and maintains a good pace. It fills a bit of a gap from the first book. It's nice to see an author following a dangling plot thread, rather than leaving you wondering why his ship got stolen in book one other than to give a bunch of airmen a reason to be on the scene in Seattle. Much like in the first book, the characters still lack a bit of depth, but they are slightly improved.
The best thing about Cherie Priest's books though are her kickass women. Maria Boyd, in my opinion, puts the ladies of Seattle to shame, because she is smart, strong and willing to do whatever she has to in order to get her way. Action and gunfights abound and Maria is often right in the middle of them.
Fun bit of wordplay:
"'That's big of you,' Maria said dryly.
'I'm glad you approve,' he responded with equal lack of humidity."
Oh, that's great. Lack of humidity! It's such a terrible joke (which is why I love it)!
A fun second book for the series, quick and easy, like sorbet or crackers to cleanse the palette after a course in a meal or wine tasting.
Clementine is a lean, mean adventure novel. While there is a small supporting cast, Priest focuses on two main characters. Pirate Croggon Hainey is determined to get his airship back. He's willing to undertake a violent cross-country chase if that's what it takes. Belle Boyd, former Confederate spy turned Pinkerton agent, is assigned to stop him and make sure that the ship's cargo arrives in Kentucky.
Priest's narrow focus means that the short length of this novel does not work to its detriment. She develops the two protagonists and has plenty of room for their fast paced adventures. The plot moves swiftly, & is surprisingly compelling given its simplicity.
While not as significant as Priest's other Clockwork Century novels, Clementine is an entertaining read and adds more depth & texture to the world she has created.