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Thursday 17 October 2013
‘Bedlam’ by Laura Joh Rowland
Charlotte Bronte, better known for writing about heroines such as Jane Eyre, becomes a protagonist herself in this historical murder mystery (a follow-up to The Secret Adventures of Charlotte Bronte).
Set in the mid-nineteenth century, Charlotte is visiting her publisher in London when she discovers her lost love, John Slade, in Bedlam, the famous insane asylum. No one believes her though, especially as the inmate escapes after apparently murdering three nurses.
Charlotte is determined to track him down to prove his identity and his innocence. But is she just blinded by longing for the mysterious Slade, last seen acting as a double agent in Russia?
As the reader travels with her to Ireland, France and back to England, she encounters a mad scientist, a glamorous actress and makes a dangerous enemy.
With guest appearances by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, this period thriller will appeal to fans of CJ Sansom, although this reader found the use of Charlotte Bronte as the heroine - and her frequent comparisons of her situation to that of Jane Eyre - somewhat unnecessary and a little bit of a gimmick.
The story stands on its own merits thanks to the evidently extensive background research. Ultimately, Charlotte's tale reaches a suitably dramatic and romantic conclusion, with the door left open for more secret adventures in the future.
Reviewer: Joanna Leigh
Laura Joh Rowland was born in 1953 in Michigsn. She is the author of 15 other mysteries, including the critically acclaimed Book Sense Pick The Secret Adventures of Charlotte Bronte and the Sano Ichiro mystery series. She was educated at the University of Michigan and lives in New York City with her husband and cat.
Joanna Leigh studied French and German at university. She works in the aerospace industry and is a chartered marketer in the UK. She describes herself as a voracious reader, enjoying genres as varied as crime thrillers, historical fiction and autobiographies. Joanna lives in London. She is the daughter of crime thriller writer Leigh Russell.