Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Disappearance in Drury Lane by Ashley Gardner

First Sentence: Marianne Simmons came to me on a cold December day when I was packing away my old life in order to begin my new.

While Captain Gabriel Lacey is preparing for his wedding to the lovely Donata, his former neighbor, actress Marianne Simmons, asks him to look for a fellow actress who is missing. This is not a simple request, as there are very dangerous men involved, as well as criminal James Denis, which whom Lacey has an uncomfortable connection.

Gardner’s voice, both in dialogue and text, is reflective of the period. The historical information incorporated within the story brings it to life; i.e., that different theaters were licensed for different types of performances; the spoken word and dramas versus operas or musicals; and the slave trade laws of the period. We also learn the schedule of staying out late and not rising until noon that is the life of the wealthy entitled. The descriptions put us right at Lacey’s side…”A thin dusting of snow coated the ground to either side of the wide, mile-long drive to Pembroke Court. The drive ended in front of the large manor, it’s bricks golden even in the weak winter sunshine.”

It is the characters, however, that really bring the book to life. We gain insight into Lacey’s childhood and life with his father, as well as an explanation as to why he’s marrying Donata; a woman much higher in rank and wealth. Donata is an excellent character. She is a widow, with a son who is heir to a title and estate. She both emotionally supports Lacey and stands up to him.

Lacey is surrounded by interesting characters. Marianne, who once stole candles and food from his rooms, is now mistress to his very wealthy friend. Felicity is a woman of mixed blood. James Denis is very dangerous, yet fascinating. Lacey’s daughter Gabriella, is someone of whom he only recently learned and met.

“A Disappearance in Drury Lane” is a very good read with things tied up in a way that is clever, yet not contrived. It is a series I’m glad to have found, and to know that it will continue.

A DISAPPEARANCE IN DRURY LANE (Hist-Capt. Gabriel Lacey-England-1818) – VG
Gardner, Ashley – 8th in series
JA AG Publishing, 2013


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