by Philip Pullman
In this second book of the Sally Lockhart trilogy, where we pick up with Sally a few years after The Ruby in the Smoke. She has built herself a small financial consulting business, no small feat for a woman in 1878, and has helped her friends from the first book build a respectable photography business.
This novel starts with two seemingly unrelated minor mysteries — one involves the sinking of a ship, losing one of Sally’s customers all of her retirement savings that she had put into that ship on Sally’s advice; the other involves an enigmatic performer at the theater where Sally’s friend Jim (and also employee at the photography studio) works backstage. These mysteries come together when an elusive company, North Star, pops into both the mystery of the ship, and the mystery of the marked performer.
Pullman’s style is easy and fun to read; though I tend to get lost during fight scenes, so I just skim ahead and see who’s standing at the end. I like that he doesn’t treat any of his characters as sacred, though I was a bit startled and upset by a death near the end of the novel.
I look forward to finding and reading the last book in the series.