Rose

( 22 )

Overview

The year is 1872. The place is Wigan, England, a coal town where rich mine owners live lavishly alongside miners no better than slaves. Into this dark, complicated world comes Jonathan Blair, who has accepted a commission to find a missing man.

When he begins his search every road leads back to one woman, a haughty, vixenish pit girl named Rose. With her fiery hair and skirts pinned up over trousers, she cares nothing for a society that calls ...

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Overview

The year is 1872. The place is Wigan, England, a coal town where rich mine owners live lavishly alongside miners no better than slaves. Into this dark, complicated world comes Jonathan Blair, who has accepted a commission to find a missing man.

When he begins his search every road leads back to one woman, a haughty, vixenish pit girl named Rose. With her fiery hair and skirts pinned up over trousers, she cares nothing for a society that calls her unnatural, scandalous, erotic.

As Rose and Blair circle one another, first warily, then with the heat of mutual desire, Blair loses his balance. And the lull induced by Rose's sensual touch leaves him unprepared for the bizarre, soul-scorching truth. . . .

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A superb thriller that will keep the reader breathless right up to the final page."
--San Francisco Chronicle

"THE MOST INTERESTING AND RICHLY TEXTURED CRIME STORY OF THE SEASON."
--Time

"[SMITH] AT THE TOP OF HIS FORM . . . It is fun, the well-plotted, dense fun of an intelligent, shadowy, literary enigma. . . . Brisk and edifying entertainment."
--The New York Times

"A JOY TO READ."
--The Washington Post Book World

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Though Arkady Renko is absent from Smith's latest novel, the author of Red Square (1992), etc., has created instead a new protagonist, Jonathan Blair, a 19th-century man in the best muscular detective tradition. Until 1872, Blair was an avid explorer of Africa's Gold Coast, but now he has been exiled by his employer, Bishop Hannay, to the Lancashire mining town of Wigan. Blair's ostensible mission is to find John Rowland, the missing curate who was engaged to Hannay's daughter, but he quickly learns that he'll need all his bush survival skills just to stay alive in Wigan, where no one seems to want the curate found. Much of Blair's gritty charm lies in his hatred of all things English, just as he is hated in turn by the aristocratic Hannays, their peer relations, the Rowlands-and the miners. On the first day of his investigation, Blair steps on nearly every toe in a very touchy town, including those of Bill Jaxon, a miner skilled at a blood sport in which naked men fight with brass-studded clogs. Blair ends up on the wrong end of a clog more than once when he intuits that Jaxon's "pit girl" (a woman who sorts coal) may have lured the curate to his doom. Smith molds a spirited, sexy mystery and fires it with his characteristic love of atmosphere. But his real treat for readers is Blair, whose spicy observations imbue even this gray landscape with prismatic color, and whose verbal sparring matches with the Hannays and Rowlands are equal to Waugh in their hilarious, scathing send-up of English upper-class incivility. Smith's extravagant talent runs the spectrum here from sparkling dialogue and tantalizing mystery to grim, graphic depictions of mining life that sear both the conscience and the imagination. Simultaneous Random House Audio and large-print edition; author tour. (May)
Library Journal
By the author of Gorky Park 1981, this novel, set in 19th-century Lancashire, mixes mining, mystery, and romance.
Thomas Gaughan
In "Gorky Park" (1981), "Polar Star" (1989), and other richly detailed novels, Martin Cruz Smith has taken readers to places they couldn't otherwise go. Typically, they are dark, hellish places where what passes for society strikes comfortable readers as codified savagery. In "Rose", set in 1872, he takes us to Wigan, a coal-rich suburb of Hell located in Lancashire, England. Mining engineer Jonathan Blair wants only to return to Africa, but his sponsor, coal baron and Anglican bishop Hannay, who funds African explorations, coerces him into going to Wigan to investigate the disappearance of a young curate who was engaged to Hannay's daughter. Blair--and the reader--are assaulted by the soot-covered coal-mining center where, for everyone but the Hannays, life is brutish and short. Blair's investigation antagonizes miners, mine supervisors, and the bishop's splenetic daughter, but when he falls in love with a "pit girl" named Rose, the antagonisms turn deadly. "Rose" has everything a compelling novel needs: Blair is a fascinating protagonist, by turns a hero and a boor; other significant characters are complex and as multifaceted as a chunk of coal; the mystery is gripping. But it is the horrific, mesmerizing portrayal of the dark, hellish Wigan, the mines themselves, and the lives of miners that makes this novel much more than a good read.
Kirkus Reviews
Smith (Red Square, 1992, etc.) not only sets his exuberant, sly new novel in Victorian England but goes Victorian novelists one better, conjuring up a plot device at the heart of this mystery that Dickens would envy.

Set in the town of Wigan, in Lancashire, this latest from Smith doesn't simply evoke the past, it plunges us into the gritty reality of a mid-19th-century community dominated by its vast coal mines. We learn an extraordinary amount about the brutal world of mining, but more importantly we come to feel a part of Wigan, so actual do its streets and inhabitants seem. It's this dense world that lingers: The plot is, with its one exception, a rather unsurprising mystery. Jonathan Blair, a mining engineer and explorer who has returned from Africa under a cloud (there are rumors of fraud), is summoned by his erstwhile employer, Bishop Hannay (who owns much of Wigan, including its largest coal mine), and set on the trail of the fianceé of Hannay's daughter Charlotte. John Maypole, a fervent young minister, had disappeared on the same day that an explosion in Hannay's mine killed 75 men. Charlotte, bright, acerbic, radical, takes an immediate dislike to the laconic Blair. He, in turn, is fascinated by Rose Molyneux, a remarkably independent "pit girl" (women employed by the mines, pit girls are notorious in England for their clothes—they wear trousers under vestigial dresses—and the supposed easiness of their morals). Blair is menaced by two miners, blithe sadists determined to stop his inquiry. A dogged, shrewd investigator, he takes a huge amount of punishment before uncovering Maypole's sad fate. And, in the midst of a dangerous affair with Rose, he discovers the remarkable scheme linking her and Charlotte Hannay. It's a dazzling moment.

Blair, Rose, and Smith's other characters are wonderful creations, robust and distinctive. The crimes here are unremarkable, but the world evoked is memorable, glowing with life.

From Barnes & Noble
After being chased out of West Africa, American mining engineer Jonathan Blair winds up in Wigan, a coal-mining town in Victorian England ruled by Bishop Hannay. Itching for adventure, Blair investigates the town's latest scandal--the disappearance of a young cleric. His inquiries take him a mile below the surface, where he encounters violent miners and scandalous pit girls. One girl in particular catches his fancy--Rose, the last known person to have seen the missing cleric.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345422521
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/28/2000
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 369,827
  • Product dimensions: 4.15 (w) x 6.87 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Martin Cruz Smith lives with his wife in northern California; they have three children. For Rose he won the Hammett Prize from the International Association of Crime Writers. He is also the author of Nightwing, Stallion Gate, and the bestselling Arkady Renko thrillers, Gorky Park, Polar Star, Red Square, and Havana Bay, his latest book.

Biography

"You have to be an outsider to write," the novelist Martin Cruz Smith has said, and the protagonists of Smith's novels also tend to be outsiders, viewing their surroundings with the wariness and sharpened attention of the displaced. Smith spent his early writing years churning out potboilers, but with the 1977 publication of Nightwing, a bestseller about a plague of vampire bats that descends on a Hopi Indian reservation, Smith finally earned enough money to embark on the book he really wanted to write: a detective novel set in Moscow.

The book opens on a grisly scene: three corpses are found frozen in Gorky Park, their faces and fingerprints obliterated. Homicide investigator Arkady Renko is put on the case, but his superiors seem less than eager to uncover the truth. Dense, atmospheric and intricately plotted, Gorky Park drew comparisons to the spy novels of John le Carré. It was hugely successful, and was made into a movie starring William Hurt in 1983. Smith wrote a historical novel about the first atom bomb, Stallion Gate, before returning to Renko’s checkered career as a detective in Polar Star and Red Square. Though he bears some resemblance to the disaffected detective of noir tradition, the cynical, depressive Renko also exemplifies the Soviet dissident -- an outsider in his own country.

Renko has been immensely popular with readers, some of whom were disappointed when Smith's 1996 novel Rose featured a new protagonist. But most Renko fans were won over by boozy, broke mining engineer Jonathan Blair, who arrives in an English coal-mining town on a mission to clear up the mysterious disappearance of the local curate. Time magazine called Rose "the most interesting and richly textured crime story of the season."

One thing that sets Smith's work apart from other thrillers is the breadth and depth of his research. Before writing Gorky Park, the author visited Moscow, befriended exiled Russians and read scores of Russian newspapers and magazines in translation. For Rose, he spent weeks in Lancashire talking with miners and visiting mines. Smith's recent works Havana Bay, in which Renko goes to Cuba, and December 6, set in Tokyo just before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, are equally fortified with research.

Though he's best known for Gorky Park, now considered a classic in the spy thriller genre, Smith is clearly a writer with more than one trick up his sleeve. "I never thought I would just be doing Arkady books," he once told a Salon interviewer. "I never intended to do any after Gorky Park, so I was pretty amazed when people asked me a few years ago what I was going to do now that the Cold War was over, as if I had been manufacturing missiles. I hate to be categorized. The great thing about being a writer is that you are always recreating yourself."

Good To Know

Martin Cruz Smith was born Martin William Smith, but changed his middle name to his grandmother's surname, Cruz. Smith is the son of a white jazz musician and a Pueblo Indian jazz singer.

George Orwell's The Road to Wigan Pier was one inspiration for Smith's novel Rose, set in the English coal-mining town of Wigan; another was a magazine article about the "pit girls" who flouted Victorian convention by wearing pants for their dangerous jobs above the mines.

Havana Bay, which reached No. 17 on the bestseller list, apparently didn't sell quite well enough to keep both author and publishers happy; a Random House publicity director told Salon that "[Havana Bay] didn't do as well as we'd hoped." After it came out, Smith left Random House for Simon & Schuster, which was looking to add more authors who could draw a male audience.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Martin William Smith (birth name); Simon Quinn; Jake Logan
    2. Hometown:
      San Rafael, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 3, 1942
    2. Place of Birth:
      Reading, Pennsylvania
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1964
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 22 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(14)

4 Star

(5)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2005

    A Wonderful Read

    Of the several Martin Cruz Smith novels I've read, this is my favorite. The setting, a coal mining town in Victorian England, may sound drab, almost 'Dickens'ish', but Cruz draws you in. The plot is tight and well thought out, the prose sensual, and the symbolism intertwines throughout the book. For instance, as you read, pay attention to Cruz's thoughtful intertwining of roses and the color red throughout the book. This book would make a fantastic movie. It certainly makes for a wonderful weekend read.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 14, 2012

    I like Martin Cruz Smith's writings, mostly the Renko series, bu

    I like Martin Cruz Smith's writings, mostly the Renko series, but Rose is a good book and I put it on my Nook. It's interesting with a surprise ending (and I'm usually really good at figuring out surprises). I cannot think of a book of his that has not been entertaining, good reading, well written, and interesting. But I'm probably prejudiced.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2012

    If you like Martin Cruz Smith you want to read Rose!

    Set in the late 19th century, Rose is a bit different than other Martin Cruz Smith novels. However once his new characters are fleshed out & the English mining town of Wigen given shape the story builds continually. Plenty of mystery, excitement & a hot love interest keep the pages turning!
    Enjoy!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 22, 2011

    Why isn't everyone talking about this book? A real page turner!

    I love historical fiction! This book takes you deep down into the real coal mining town of Wigan, England. Our hero is suffering from malaria he contracted in his beloved Africa. He will do anything to return to the gold mines of Africa, including solve the mysterious dissapearance of a person of interest for the coal mine owner. This book has it all.... murder, mystery, history, romance and lots of twists and turns! The nitty gritty life of a coal miner will appeal to male as well as female readers! Check it out!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Man, this guy can write!!

    I have adored every word of Smith's Arkady Renko series and have read, and loved two of his other novels. Saying all that I had high expectations for Rose. It not only met them, but far exceeded them. I felt transported to this dark English village and felt dirty with coal duat the whole time. The mystery or should I say mysteries were beautifully done! Fantastic! A+

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2005

    A great read- rich in setting and characterization

    It's been a year since I read Rose. As I return to purchase a replacement copy for the one I must have loaned, I still recall aspects of the chilling setting, the complex characters, the intriguing subplots and intricate dialog of this novel as vividly as if I had read it yesterday. This is a masterfully spun tale that will, like coal dust, get under your skin and stay there all the way to its remarkable ending.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2002

    Mistery, romance, politics

    This is one of my favorite books. I have red it in no time. Story it self is very interesting for the time it was written on. Not may people enjoy knowing about 1872 and English colonies in Africa. Life of miners was always hard and this book proves it even more. Investigation of missing Reverend takes us in to unavoidable romance between ¿pit girl¿ and a mining engineer/explorer. Blair is a character that lacks attractive qualities but still manages to capture readers mind. Romance, mystery and politics nothing is missing form this book. Excellent read. Enjoy

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2000

    A Dark Mystery with an Interesting History

    Like Renko, the central character of Martin Cruz Smith's Soviet mysteries, Jonathan Blair endears himself to us in spite of his lack of attractive qualities. His curiosity and tenacity drive us with him toward discovering the evils within the deep, dark, hellish coal mines. Not all the characters are well defined, but there is a rich tapestry of local color against which the mystery plays out. I read it twice in a row to capture the complexity of the narrative.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2014

    A rose for my Mom

    @~(~~~~

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2014

    Qwertyuiop

    &

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2014

    Blueflames

    Padded in an sat do. She fell asleep almost instantly. (Not gone though)

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2014

    Hwhbjfn

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2014

    Phonix vote

    Aperdite

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2014

    Phoenix vote

    Artemis i know she was a maiden goddess and vowed never yo marry but does that mean she cant have kids if it does make up some kind of story about hiw shes the only child of artemis.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2014

    Phoneix vote

    Either Hetcate of Hestia (i think l spelled both names wrong;)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2013

    Med den

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2013

    Wells

    Rested.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2013

    Lounge

    Here.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews

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