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The Fourteenth Letter by Claire Evans

The Fourteenth Letter

by Claire Evans

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Part Gothic, part Steampunk, part historical thriller, and wholly riveting, The Fourteenth Letter is an obscurely titled but compulsively readable debut thriller.

Although the plot often verges on the de je vous for fans of the genre, Claire Evans has based her most unlikely scenarios on the historical record, keeping apparent fantasy firmly grounded in real science.

Beautiful young Phoebe Stanbury has her throat slit at her engagement ball by a mysterious naked intruder, tattooed with the same pattern, over and over again.

Orphaned legal clerk William Lamb is shy and ignorant but otherwise unexceptional – except that he was born without a left-hand thumb. His employer commits suicide when he learns William has visited the firm’s most important client.

Savannah Shelton, scarred Amerindian illegal immigrant wanted on three murder charges in the US, works for a Whitechapel crime lord keeping watch on a house visited by William Lamb…

Set in 1881, an era when the telephone and electricity were coming into their own, along with colonialism and weapons of mass destruction, The Fourteenth Letter is a debut combining science and romance, fantasy and history, in a familiar, if slightly alternate world. Highly recommended. ( )
  adpaton | Aug 10, 2017 |
This could have been better. I wanted more from it but I think the author was throwing all the things at the plot.

One thing I didn't understand, with all the glove wearing in Victorian England, why didn't William have a pair with a false thumb attached? You were not considered properly dressed without gloves so this would have successfully hidden the problem when William was out and about. The story opens with Phoebe Stanbury being murdered at her engagement party and then follows the aftermath and the complicated issues that went into creating this murder and the reasons why the murderer did it.

It follows several characters and their lives and how this entire complicated mess they find themselves in has roots in the past. Nothing is as it seems and 1881 is a complicated time and place.

I was left feeling quite meh about it all, the story wasn't bad but I was left wanting both more and less, the female characters felt quite hollow and interchangeable while the male characters felt more vibrant and whole. Overall not bad but fairly predictable. ( )
  wyvernfriend | May 2, 2017 |
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A mysterious keepsake, a murdered bride, a legacy of secrets... One balmy June evening in 1881, Phoebe Stanbury stands before the guests at her engagement party: this is her moment, when she will join the renowned Raycraft family and ascend to polite society. As she takes her fiance's hand, a stranger holding a knife steps forward and ends the poor girl's life. Amid the chaos, he turns to her aristocratic groom and mouths: 'I promised I would save you.' The following morning, just a few miles away, timid young legal clerk William Lamb meets a reclusive client. He finds the old man terrified and in desperate need of aid: William must keep safe a small casket of yellowing papers, and deliver an enigmatic message: The Finder knows. With its labyrinth of unfolding secrets, Claire Evans' riveting debut will be adored by fans of Kate Mosse, Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Jessie Burton.… (more)

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