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Publisher's Summary

It began with a simple note: a letter of rejection delivered to Miss Temple on her maid's silver tray. But for Miss Temple, her fiance's cruel rejection will ignite a harrowing quest for truth, plunging her into a mystery as dizzying as a hall of mirrors. Thus begins Gordon Dahlquist's spectacular literary debut, a novel of Victorian suspense that shatters conventions and seethes with danger and eroticism. Miss Temple's pursuit soon leads to a remote, forbidding estate where all inhibitions are laid bare and shocking discoveries lie behind its closed doors: men and women in provocative disguise, acts of licentiousness and violence, heroism and awakening. But she will also find two allies: Cardinal Chang, a brutal assassin with the heart of a poet, and a royal doctor named Svenson, at once fumbling and heroic; both of whom, like her, lost someone at Harschmort Manor. The search for answers hurtles this unlikely trio from elegant brothels and gaslit alleyways to astonishing moments of self-discovery and ever-mounting peril. For the conspiracy they face, a perverted alchemy of science, religion, and lust for power, is terrifying beyond belief.
©2006 Gordon Dahlquist. All rights reserved; (P)2006 Simon & Schuster Inc. All rights reserved.
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Critic Reviews

"Beautifully written." (Entertainment Weekly)
"The most original thing I've read in years!" (Diana Gabaldon)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Susan on 12-29-07

Please Note This is Abridged!

Due to the stated length of the audiobook I stupidly didn't notice that it is an abridged version - in fact I didn't realize that until it was over and I heard the credits. I have to believe this made all the difference in the world, because as I listened to it I several times thought "How can this person write such good dialog and yet have such horrible pacing/continuity?" Now I know. Ugh, I hate abridged audio.

Anyway, the writing (such as was left of it) was funny and witty in many places. ("It was too much to bear. It was certainly too much to bear in a closet.") Alfred Molina does a wonderful job reading it. The characters are interesting; however it's extremely hard to keep up with them all, given their foreign names and titles and the very choppy action.

A few people have said that this is "pornographic" and they must have some different standard of pornography than I do. Descriptions of a few sex acts, including oral sex, do occur, but they're hardly of a length or intensity as to be the focus of the scene, only used to illustrate the rest of the action in the scene.

I now feel as if I have to go and read the actual book to see what I missed, and that's an aggravating feeling after spending 12 hours listening to an audiobook.

I can't recommend this abridged version - I think that I would have felt much more positively about an unabridged version.

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15 of 15 people found this review helpful


By James Gammill on 08-21-06

A Casual Listen? Not Quite!

This is a complex storyline with lots of characters to keep straight. If, after reading hundreds of books, you search for writers and stories with some evidence of original thought and imagination, then you should be pleased with this selection. The book cannot be easily classified: Action-Adventure, Suspense/Mystery, and Erotica could all apply.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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