A Foreign Affair
By Caro Peacock
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Avon +
Date: March 25, 2008
I have just finished a clever historiacal mystery set in the earliest Victorian period. This was published in the UK as Death at Dawn. The best part is I know the second book in the series will be available soon as Death of a Dancer is being realeased in the UK in April 2008.
A Foreign Affair opens with: "Would you be kind enough to tell me where they keep people's bodies". It is mid June 1837 when intrepid Liberty Lane age 22 learns of her father's mysterious death in Calais, France. She wants answers. Meanwhile England's King William IV is dying. Martin Van Buren is the new American president. And, the reign of eighteen year old Queen Victoria (1819-1901) will begin on June 20, 1837.
Liberty Lane was raised in an unconventional home with her younger brother Thomas by their widowed father Thomas Jacques Lane a musician, teacher and rescuer. She escaped her aunt's restrictive home to surprise him in Dover upon his return to England. But she was the one surprised by a message informing her he had had died in a duel in the French port of Calais.
She is determined to find out what really had happened to him as he was adamantly against dueling. She discovers much along the way not only about herself but about her father, the world and how to handle herself in harrowing circumstances.
The book ends shortly after July 14 (Bastille Day) with our plucky heroine heading for London with her accrued companions after discovering the answers she sought. We are left wondering exactly how she will support and house herself and those with her.
In this first in a series novel by Caro Peacock we are given an introduction to those who play key roles in Libby's life. The author has left some loose plot threads including her extended family who will no doubt create problems for her in the future and a hint of a potential unofficial connection to the British government to be told in future books.
I anticipate these future books will continue to echo the 18th century's rapid progress in science and technology along with major political and social reforms from the Victorian Era as people including Liberty Lane grapple with new ideas and a growing egalitarian society.