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The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman
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The Ruby in the Smoke (1985)

by Philip Pullman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Sally Lockhart Mysteries (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,943721,953 (3.76)126
Recently added byHCKLibrary, UICS, emily.youngster, dmcwo, BooklearningKJ, private library, Zaffiro, bluet
  1. 60
    A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee (Anonymous user, Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Both stories are Victorian-era mysteries with smart and feisty female protagonists. Pullman's trilogy is definitely the darker of the two series, but Lee's complex and capable protagonist makes The Agency series well worth a read for cozy mystery lovers.… (more)
  2. 32
    A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (norabelle414)
    norabelle414: Excellent Victorian era historical fiction mysteries with strong female protagonists
  3. 00
    The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (Aleana)
  4. 00
    The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer (Aleana)
  5. 00
    The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle by Catherine Webb (HatsForMice)
    HatsForMice: Another Victorian London-set mystery, but with a fantasy element, more humour and a stronger sense of setting.
  6. 00
    Les étranges soeurs Wilcox, Tome 1 : Les vampires de Londres by Fabrice Colin (Aleana)
  7. 00
    The Affinity Bridge by George Mann (RosyLibrarian)
  8. 00
    The Broken Bridge by Philip Pullman (norabelle414)
  9. 00
    The Escape From Home by Avi (nocowardsoul)
  10. 00
    The Musician's Daughter by Susanne Dunlap (sweetiegherkin)
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» See also 126 mentions

English (68)  French (3)  Dutch (1)  All languages (72)
Showing 1-5 of 68 (next | show all)
Throughout the year of 2014, I told myself I'd re-read some of my favourite books from my childhood. This was the first one I picked up as I remember being absolutely addicted to the series way back when. It was just as incredible as I remembered, maybe even more so thanks to finally catching the adult themes and jokes within the book within my adult eyes.

What do a man drowning at sea, a heart attack victim and a mysterious message all have in common? Little Sally Lockheart. That's all I'm going to say in regards to the premise of the book. You really do all have to read it and I don't want to give anything away. Even the slightest of details can hint at the final ending of the book.

Philip Pullman really is the master storyteller. He keeps things succinct, and yet detailed, explained and yet exciting, and everything ties in with everything else almost far too perfectly. The language he uses is rich and inviting and always urges you to read "just one more" chapter. The heroine is amazing at some things, and yet does have her flaws, which I think makes her just that much more real. Instead of having a mastermind perfect at everything running an investigation, you have a flawed person investigating equally flawed people and so on. One of the main themes of this book is what some people call "the grey area". Not one person or object within this book is either good or evil, they always lie somewhere in between. I love that.

The plot is engaging and unique and although everything is tied up neatly at the end, there are some loose threads that aren't explained which makes you want to read the next few books in the series. As if you wouldn't want to anyway, Philip Pullman is a genius. He always has, is, and will always remain, one of my favourite authors of all time.

I salute you, my friend. I salute you. ( )
  kerryelizabeth | Apr 4, 2014 |
This was a great mystery. I knew almost nothing about opium before reading this book. I feel like I know a lot more now.

I really liked the whole group of characters. I also liked that Sally was a strong and independent character, but one who also knows when to ask for help.

I would recommend this to teens who want a good mystery. ( )
  TheMadHatters | Mar 16, 2014 |
Well. Erm. Humm.

After meaning to read this book for years, I wanted to like this so much more than I did!!!!! Yes, I am using an excess of punctuation here because I feel like my disappointment is justified. So many readers I know say that this book was one of their favorites; that they wanted to be, or be friends with, Sally Lockhart; that rereading this beloved gem never failed them.

My biggest qualm with THE RUBY IN THE SMOKE is that Sally Lockhart feels like the quintessential "un-protagonist." For a character with an eponymous series name and lots written up about her in the back cover synopsis, Sally spends a lot of time off the page. The narration divides its time between Sally, the villains, Jim the plucky errand boy, Frederick the photographer, and who knows who else. While it was not bad that we spent some time following Jim's, Frederick's, the villains' footsteps around, I felt like the synopsis misled me to believe that I'd learn more about Sally, that I'd come to understand how she thinks, how she operates.

Alas, not only does Sally not have much narration time, rendering her still unfamiliar to me, but she also doesn't DO much of anything in this book. The synopsis makes her out to be this female wunderkind detective force to be reckoned it, when actually I feel like she does a lot of sitting at home, waiting for others (read: the male characters) to get back from their excursions and fill her in on what they've done. For a character that's supposed to be the protagonist, Sally really feels two steps behind everyone else on this case. Cementing my view that the series was named incorrectly was the fact that Sally basically gets gypped out of having her crowning moment! Through putting herself in an opium-induced trance, she figures out the secret behind the ruby, but it turns out that JIM already figured it out chapters ago, but just didn't tell her for fear of disappointing her or whatnot. Then the climactic scenes occur in which the guys get to do a lot of fighting and Sally is merely hormonal. Puh-lease. I don't care whichever way you spin it, Sally is not "intrepid" for tearfully enduring the consequences of her unknown history and for figuring out something that another character already figured out before her.

For a book with a female protagonist, THE RUBY IN THE SMOKE spends a disappointingly disproportionate time showing us that actually it's the boys who still get to do the exciting and essential parts of crime-solving. Feminist I find this book is not. Try Y. S. Lee's impressive The Agency Victorian mystery series if you truly want to see a smart and resourceful teen female detective in action. ( )
  stephxsu | Feb 17, 2014 |
Quite the page turner. ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
A book in the tradition of Victorian melodrama set in Victorian England. Reminiscent of "The Sign of Four"; there is a jewel of great price, a missing father, someone who believes that it rightfully belongs to them, and so forth. Different from that story because the protagonist is a determined young woman whose behavior is often rather unwomanly by Victorian standards.

There is a good deal of violence in the book, and its aftermath is usually very painful. Very frequently the combatants are more or less unarmed; they carry sticks or had previous careers as boxers. Guns are not common although knives make an appearance.

As with Philip Pullman's other books the details, e.g., the speed of the Victorian mail system, are very well evokes. ( )
  themulhern | Jan 5, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 68 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip Pullmanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Benson, LindaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lesser, AntonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mak, KamCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stutzman, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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On a cold, fretful afternoon in early October, 1872, a hansom cab drew up outside the offices of Lockhart and Selby, Shipping Agents in the financial heart of London, and a young girl got out and paid the driver.
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Book description
Soon after Sally Lockhart's father drowns at sea, she receives a strange anonymous letter. The dire warning it contains makes a man die of fear at her feet. Determined to discover the truth about her father's death, Sally is plunged into a terrifying mystery in the dark heart of Victorian London, at the centre of which lie a deadly blood-soaked jewel.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0394895894, Mass Market Paperback)

"Her name was Sally Lockhart; and within fifteen minutes, she was going to kill a man." Philip Pullman begins his Sally Lockhart trilogy with a bang in The Ruby in the Smoke--a fast-paced, finely crafted thriller set in a rogue- and scalawag-ridden Victorian London. His 16-year-old heroine has no time for the usual trials of adolescence: her father has been murdered, and she needs to find out how and why. But everywhere she turns, she encounters new scoundrels and secrets. Why do the mere words "seven blessings" cause one man to keel over and die at their utterance? Who has possession of the rare, stolen ruby? And what does the opium trade have to do with it?

As our determined and intelligent sleuth sets her mind to unraveling these dark mysteries, she learns how embroiled she is in the whole affair. As riveting and witty as the sensational "penny dreadfuls" of Victorian England (but thousands of times better written), Pullman's trilogy (including The Shadow in the North and The Tiger in the Well) will have readers on the edges of their seats. Ruby is an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. (Ages 12 and older) --Karin Snelson

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:27:02 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

In nineteenth-century London, sixteen-year-old Sally, a recent orphan, becomes involved in deadly search for a mysterious ruby.

» see all 10 descriptions

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