A Broken Vessel (A Julian Kestrel Mystery)

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Overview

No detection team was ever more mismatched: Julian Kestrel, the debonair and elegant Regency dandy, and Sally Stokes, a bold and bewitching Cockney prostitute and thief. But one night Fate throws them together, giving them the only clue that can unmask a diabolical killer. It all starts in London's notorious Haymarket district, where Sally picks up three men one after the other and nicknames them Bristles, Blue Eyes, and Blinkers. From each of them Sally steals a handkerchief - and from one she mistakenly steals ...
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Overview

No detection team was ever more mismatched: Julian Kestrel, the debonair and elegant Regency dandy, and Sally Stokes, a bold and bewitching Cockney prostitute and thief. But one night Fate throws them together, giving them the only clue that can unmask a diabolical killer. It all starts in London's notorious Haymarket district, where Sally picks up three men one after the other and nicknames them Bristles, Blue Eyes, and Blinkers. From each of them Sally steals a handkerchief - and from one she mistakenly steals a letter that contains an urgent appeal for help as well. But which man did she get the letter from? Who is the distraught young woman who wrote it? And where is she being held against her will? These questions take on a new urgency when Sally finds the writer of the letter - dead. Luckily, Sally's brother is none other than Dipper, reformed pickpocket and now valet to gifted amateur sleuth Julian Kestrel. The authorities dismiss the girl's death as suicide, but to Kestrel it looks more like murder. To prove it, he must track down Bristles, Blue Eyes, and Blinkers, and find out which of them had the dead girl's letter. Sally uses all her ingenuity and daring to help Kestrel solve this case. But she is out to solve another mystery as well: Is there a man of flesh and blood under Kestrel's impeccable clothes?

In 1820's London, Julian Kestrel and an unlikely partner--bold and bewitching prostitute Sally Stokes--stalk a murderer through the high places and low life in Regency London, after Sally mistakenly steals a letter from one of her clients containing an urgent plea for help from a distraught young woman.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this atmospheric and gritty mystery set in 1820's London, dandy Julian Kestrel (first encountered in Cut to the Quick ) searches out the truth about a supposed suicide. Sally Stokes, a ``game girl,'' or prostitute--and the sister of Julian's valet--likes to lift handkerchiefs from her clients. Among the three she collects in one night's work, she finds a letter from an obviously upper-class young woman despairing over her fate in an establishment for fallen women. Intrigued by the mystery, Julian and Sally set out to determine her identity. Sally insinuates herself into the Reclamation Society, where she learns that one of the inmates is a recent suicide, while Julian attempts to trace the owners of the handkerchiefs. The closets of these gentlemen, however, harbor assorted skeletons, and Julian and Sally's investigations draw them ever deeper into danger. Ross briskly explores the sordid underbelly of the Regency period with sharply etched characters, authentic slang and a smartly intricate plot sweetened by a fetching and unusual love story. (May)
Library Journal
Ross's second Julian Kestrel mystery ( Cut to the Quick, LJ 2/1/93) teams the Regency buck cum amateur detective with London prostitute Sally to search for the murderer of a woman in a refuge for ``fallen woman.'' The trail starts with an anonymous letter leading to three ``flats'' (johns); the trails converge and diverge before tying up neatly at the end. While readers may guess the dead woman's identity, and even the killer's, before the book's end, the witty repartee, unusual protagonists, and accurately rendered picture of early 19th-century London manners and morals should engage mystery readers. Ross is a writer to follow--and collect.
School Library Journal
YA-Ross's second mystery about Julian Kestrel, the Regency dandy, teams him with Sally Stokes, a cockney prostitute who helps him solve a clever and devilish murder. One night, as is her custom, Sally steals a handkerchief from each of her three clients. In one, she finds a letter from a woman being held against her will and begging for help. A concerned and frightened Sally runs into her brother, a reformed pickpocket and Kestrel's valet. Soon she and Kestrel are matching wits to find the owner of the handkerchief and locate the desperate woman. Through dogged legwork they locate the three men, each from a different strata of society but each of whom has something serious to hide relating to a young heiress, the Reclamation Society, and the seamy underground life of London's Haymarket District. The clues come thick and fast in this action-packed mystery. Ross provides a good look at the beginnings of the London police force as well as the working of the English courts and the role of magistrates in this authentic view of early 19th-century social life.- Mary T. Gerrity, Queen Anne School Library, Upper Marlboro, MD
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140234534
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/1/1995
  • Series: Julian Kestrel Mystery Series , #2
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 4.24 (w) x 6.82 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Table of Contents

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2005

    Intrigueing, page-turning

    A Broken Vessel is part of the Julian Kestrel series. It's the first in the series I've read, and it won't be the last! Set in Regency or Dickens' Edwardian London, (there's a definite Dickensian feel), the plot involves the mysterious identity and circumstances surrounding the death of a young woman at a 'reformation house'. When Sally, a prostitute in London's seedy Haymarket, steals the handkerchieves of three of her 'clientele' one night, she also unintentionally steals a letter, which turns out to be an obviously heartfelt plea for help from a young woman. Shortly after, Sally runs into her brother, Dipper, a reformed pickpocket who is now valet to the high-class, gentlemanly sleuth, Julian Kestrel. The three, Sally, Dipper and Julian work together to discover the identity of the letter-writer. Unfortunately they discover her identity too late. They identify the letter-writer as a young inmate of a reformation house who was purported to have commited suicide, and who was using the anonymous name of Mary at the time of her death. Circumstances surrounding the purported suicide do not add up, and the three begin a determined effort to learn the truth about Mary's identity and her death. This was the best historical mystery I've yet read! It has a page-turning plot, vivid, sympathetic characters and is quite well-crafted. I will definitely be reading more of these Julian Kestrel mysteries. Sadly, the author passed away in 1998, so there are only four in the series.

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