When John Rawlings is asked to investigate a secret club and some shady goings-on, he is intrigued. The disreputable Sir Francis Dashwood is believed to be involved, as well as some illustrious members of the British aristocracy. In disguise and accompanied by the ungainly Sam Swann, John befriends Sir Dashwood and gains access to his home and family, including someone from John's past, someone whose exceptional beauty still hypnotises him. However, evil lurks in hidden corners of Sir Dashwood's opulent home and there seems to be a sinister element behind the infamous Hellfire Club's debaucheries. Is John putting himself and Sam in danger by trying to find out the truth?More
"Witty, inquisitive, charming and humane... The author cannot write new volumes as quickly as I want to read them" (Steven Saylor)
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Medically inaccurate, risible narrative
If I had listened to a different book.
About the book: an author should not think of fiction as an opportunity to demonstrate his or her own ignorance of reality. Deryn Lake cannot seem to distinguish primary from tertiary syphilis (there is a difference); despite making some verbal handwaving in that direction. He (or she--I don't know and don't care) appears to have no understanding of medical knowledge and treatment of the era and little understanding of nature of a disease central to the narrative.
As to the characters: the villains are a all mustache twirling, menacing evildoers as obvious as the heavies in silent movies. The hero, despite his claims to medical knowledge, never does more than exclaim, at one point, "I am an apothecary!" (I choked on my coffee at the time and still can't stop mentally giggling about it.) Despite the hero's claims of medical knowledge, he makes no effort towards getting the poor syphilitic victim some treatment for his disease. (I believe mercury was called for in some way.)
Michael Tudor Barnes is one of on my favorite performers and my only reason for picking up this audiobook. Here, though, even he seems not at his best. I attribute this to the material. 4 stars for the fact that he stayed awake.
All of them.
The second half of this book may be the finest written in the English tongue. I will never know. I couldn't finish.
- Pamela Grim