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The Streets of Babylon: A London Mystery Paperback – May 1, 2008
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The next morning after settling for insipid tea instead of coffee for breakfast, the Swedish pair goes to the exhibit. Outside is mobbed and they separate with Euthanasia telling Agnes to wait for her inside. When Euthanasia enters, her niece is not there. She searches everywhere, but cannot find her niece. She tells the police and cop Owain Evans investigates with Euthanasia at his side.
The vivid picturesque Victorian London will have readers believe they are there exploring the Great Exhibition and much more as THE STREETS OF BABYLON is an excellent historical mystery that makes the time and place seem so alive. The story line is brisk with a fabulous superstar as Euthanasia takes charge of the plot in skirts and pants (undercover as a male going where no respectable female has gone before except incognito). Carina Burman provides an exhilarating mid nineteenth century kidnapped thriller with Sarah Death's translation from Swedish to English remarkable.
Euthanasia Bondeson was an interesting character. An authoress and woman of independent means in an era where both were rare, she was strong-willed and audacious, often saying the wrong thing, or at best, too much and defying the Victorian strictures of the society in which she moved. She sees everything through the writer's eye, and I felt great affinity for her when she said, '...whenever I have experienced anything, it does not become real for me until I have written it down, or at least spoken of it.'
The plot was interesting and well-paced. I was not sure who had kidnapped Euthanasia's traveling companion Agnes until the author revealed the perpetrator's identity. Likewise, I found myself wondering along with Euthanasia if Agnes was dead or alive.
There was also a romance element that kept me guessing. Euthanasia proclaimed, 'Men do not interest me greatly, and I have never regretted remaining single ...' but there were three attractive male characters in the book with whom the adventurous heroine did her fair share of chaste Victorian flirting. I found myself wondering if she would end up falling in love and into a romantic relationship after all.
I particularly enjoyed the fact that Euthanasia, though accepted into London's high society due to her stature as a world-famous author, preferred to explore the slums of the city and displayed a genuine concern for the underprivileged citizens she encountered there.Read more ›
I found this book highly amusing, which I'm not sure I'm supposed to feel in a mystery. I'm not sure - mysteries aren't my genre, although historical fiction is. It wasn't harrowing at all, probably thanks to Euthanasia's infectious way of shrugging off the worst of things until going off into the thick of them. She does her share of spying and dressing up as a man to get into the seedy London underworld in an attempt to put the pieces together and find her missing friend. There are a lot of pieces, as numerous crimes are going on at the same time! In addition, the London underworld is depicted in some detail, which is definitely something that I enjoyed, and it's easy to see why its denizens would shrug off the appearance of a woman dressed as a man.
Sometimes the wording in this novel is a bit awkward, but I think that's due to the translation. The characters are all viewed through Euthanasia's sometimes rose-colored glasses, particularly her favorite, Professor Devindra (who has a very long last name that I keep thinking is that of one of my professors). I think what this mystery best succeeds at is making a character out of Euthanasia. It's entirely her tale, and she may not be entirely realistic, but she's great company. As a minor note, I also love the way the chapter headings start with "In which". It just helps to give the whole book a quirky feel.Read more ›