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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Fans of recent critically acclaimed historical whodunits like Jed Rubenfeld's The Interpretation of Murder and The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin should make it a point to remember the name Clare Langley-Hawthorne the next time they're looking for something new to read. Her impressive debut novel, Consequences of Sin, adeptly reconstructs the politically and socially supercharged atmosphere of early-20th-century London and features unlikely 22-year-old heroine Ursula Marlow.
Not a typical Edwardian heiress, Ursula is an Oxford graduate and a fervent suffragette unsuccessfully trying to launch her a career in the male-dominated industry of journalism. Living in a society that openly represses women, her biggest adversary is the culture itself, which has all but predestined her to a future role as an upstanding and obedient wife, seen but not heard. But when Marlow's best friend, a radical activist named Winifred, is wrongly accused of murder, Marlow soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in a surreal game of life-and-death that includes treachery, greed, a decades-old curse -- and a vengeance-obsessed killer. Can a young woman who can't even vote solve an elaborate mystery that has tormented and eluded brilliant men for decades?
Blending historical fiction and the amateur-sleuth whodunit with a generous helping of romance, Langley-Hawthorne's first novel may surprised readers with its subtle narrative complexity. The unexpected plot twists at the book's conclusion, particularly, make Consequences of Sin a must-read for anyone who enjoys historical mysteries. The first in a projected series featuring a tenacious -- and endearing -- protagonist. Paul Goat Allen