Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Flaw in the Blood: Review

A Flaw in the Blood by Stephanie Barron Synopsis (from the back of the book): Windsor Castle, 1861. Prince Albert, the Queen's Consort, lies dying, and Victoria summons Patrick Fitzgerald, the clever, embittered Irish barrister who helped defend Her Majesty from a would-be assassin twenty years earlier. Within hours, Fitzgerald's beautiful ward is nearly murdered, his chambers lie ransacked, and another girl is dead. Could an unknown force at Windsor want Fitzgerald silenced? And why? The answers are entangled in an electrifying tale of intrigue, seduction, and betrayal, partially narrated by Europe's most powerful monarch.

First off...Fitzgerald didn't really have much to do with defending Queen Victoria from that would-be assassin. And actually worked for the defense of the perpetrator...arguing for a plea of insanity. Second, Queen Victoria can't stand Fitzgerald (or any Irishman for that matter) and the bigger mystery is why she summoned him at all. That's what Fitzgerald needs to puzzle out.

My take: Excellent period research. Barron has gotten her details of the middle 1800s exactly right. Enjoyed every bit of that (solid point). Wonderfully strong female character in Georgiana Armistead (Fitzgerald's ward). More of her would have gone a long way (solid point). The multiple narrator tactic--not so much. There are some books where this works very well. This is not one of them The portions that are supposedly narrated by Queen Victoria don't ring true and are more irritating than anything (negative point). If I had read one more "Look you" as an emphasis of Fitzgerald's Irish heritage I think I would have screamed. Even more irritating than the multiple narrator (negative point). Mildly interesting intrigue (point), but the "OMG ending" (that would be a blurb quote) just really doesn't strike me as all that believable. Overall: This book has a few strong points in its favor--historical details and a strong, likable character. However, these few favorable points are outweighed by negative ones. Two stars out of five.

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