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4.4 19
by Martin Cruz Smith

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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


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. . . .

Editorial Reviews

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 the Publisher
"The most fascinating and ambitious thriller of the year."
-San Francisco Chronicle

"A joy to read . . . Rich in historical and social detail . . . In Rose Smith has once again succeeded in giving us a book that brings alive a people and place previously foreign. He?s made Wigan as real as Moscow."
-The Washington Post Book World

"Insightful and revealing . . . A complex tapestry of history and fiction, woven together in a framework of mystery and suspense."
-The Denver Post

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:

Meet the Author

Martin Cruz Smith lives in Northern California with his wife and three children.

About the Reader
Michael York has performed with Britain's National Theater as well as on Broadway in Someone to Watch Over Me.  His film credits include Cabaret and The Three Musketeers.  His television work includes "Jesus of Nazareth" and "Space".

Brief Biography

San Rafael, California
Date of Birth:
November 3, 1942
Place of Birth:
Reading, Pennsylvania
B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1964

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Rose 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Sean_From_OHIO More than 1 year ago
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+
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
maxiann More than 1 year ago
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.
SurfCityDawg More than 1 year ago
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!
Wabit More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well done,enjoyed this very much.
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She nods at Ceccelia. "Chow, Mi bella."
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Padded in an sat do. She fell asleep almost instantly. (Not gone though)
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.