cover image The Sailor’s Ransom

The Sailor’s Ransom

Brian Thompson. Vintage U.K. (IPG, dist.), $13.95 trade paper (252p) ISBN 978-0-09-953949-0

In Thompson’s melodramatic second Victorian mystery featuring high society widow Bella Wallis (after Sept. 2011’s The Widow’s Secret), Bella, who writes “sensational” novels under the pseudonym Henry Ellis Margam to expose wrongdoers, agrees to do a favor for a confidant, spy Philip Westland. Philip’s childhood friend, William Kennett, “the cleverest man in England,” is in love with meek heiress Mary Skillane, but Mary’s heartless father insists she wed Robert Judd, a scoundrel Mary detests. William vows to do anything to prevent this union, even if it means killing Judd. Bella offers to help save Mary from this horrible fate. Despite a straightforward plot with few twists and less than fully developed characters, readers will cheer Bella and friends as they plunge into the rankest London slums and later get on the trail of a merciless killer and a fortune in pearls in Cornwall. (Dec.)