Set in 1758, the latest well-crafted and entertaining Ben Franklin mystery (after The Case of the Christmas Murder ) finds the Pennsylvania colony's astute agent in England waging a snail-paced bureacratic battle with the Penn family. With him are his new-found natural son, 12-year-old aspiring artist Nick Handy, and his elder son William, law student and bedazzled admirer of a young actress at David Garrick's Drury Lane theater. But darkness--both actual and metaphorical--threatens the playhouse. Soon inventive Ben is not only devising improved stage lighting but also investigating anonymous letters, attempted arson and murder. Deftly plotted and chock full of historical tidbits, the tale offers a lively mix of real and fictional personalities in vividly depicted 18th-century London streets, taverns and backstage milieux. A recurrent theme here is the anguished situation of women at a time when marriage was virtual slavery, since a woman's possessions, salary and even children were the legal property of her husband. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992 Release date: 11/01/1992 Genre: Fiction
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