cover image London Blood: Further Adventures of the American Agent Abroad

London Blood: Further Adventures of the American Agent Abroad

Robert Lee Hall, Author Thomas Dunne Books $21.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-312-16908-4

Benjamin Franklin again takes time from his colonial trade mission chores to help solve several nasty murders in London, circa 1759. In this sixth adventure (following Murder by the Waters), magistrate John Fielding calls on Franklin when two unidentified women are found with their hearts cut out. A grubby journalist known as Jack Scratch, nosing around the crime scene, alerts Franklin to strange goings-on among the idle rich of St. James's and Soho Square. When one victim is identified and connected to members of a gang of hooligans known as bloods, Scratch's tip seems suspiciously prescient. The trail leads from the Marquess of Bathurst, who acts pleased that his niece was slain, to Charles Ravendon, a black arts master of the Dionysus Club, viewed even by his friends as a devil. The narrator is 14-year-old Nicholas Handy, Franklin's unacknowledged son. Wise beyond his years, young Nicholas provides the rich atmosphere that distinguishes this series. Franklin offers informative disgressions on lighting rods, class distinctions and solving murders with shrewd observation and perseverance. In Hall's rich tale, the difference between Franklin's enlightened love of pleasure and the darker predilections of the villains couldn't be more clear. (Oct.)