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The Thief-Taker: Memoirs of a Bow Street Runner

Banks, T.F.

507 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0385335717 / ISBN 13: 9780385335713
Published by Delacorte Press
Used Condition: Very Good Hardcover
From Wonder Book (Frederick, MD, U.S.A.)

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First edition copy. . Very Good dust jacket. In protective mylar cover. Bookseller Inventory # X03A-00334

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Thief-Taker: Memoirs of a Bow Street ...

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

June 1815. Regency-era London comes vividly to life in T. F. Banks’s darkly atmospheric mystery. Against this enthralling backdrop — when Napoleon, Wellington, and Lord Byron ruled the world stage — and featuring a lively cast of rabble-rousers and miscreants, constables and aristocrats, The Thief-Taker weaves an unforgettable tale of jealousy, revenge, and inconsolable love.

When Henry Morton is called to the scene at Portman House in Claridge Square, the Bow Street constable finds a man dead — ostensibly of asphyxiation. He was Halbert Glendinning, a member of the Sussex Circle and a gentleman of unsullied character whose behavior was above reproach. Then why was he seen frequenting one of London’s most notorious dens of iniquity? And why has the driver of the hackney coach in which the dead man was discovered vanished into the night?

While Sir Nathaniel Conant, the chief magistrate at Number 4 Bow Street, accepts the official verdict of accidental death, Morton knows that Glendinning was a victim of foul play. With the help of actress Arabella Malibrant, one of London’s most celebrated beauties, he embarks on his own discreet inquiry.

Morton’s investigation takes him from the elegant town houses of Mayfair to the backstage dressing rooms of the Drury Lane Theatre, from the cobbled streets of Whitechapel to the docks of the Old Bailey — and into the teeming underbelly of a London he knows only too well. Yet the answers may lie somewhere else entirely: in an affair of honor between two men vying for the affections of the same woman.

As Morton’s search brings him nearer to the truth, as the upper circles of London society ruthlessly close ranks against him, Morton must prevent a grave miscarriage of justice from taking place. With his own freedom — and, ultimately, his life — suspended in the balance, he races to unmask a killer whose motives are as complex and unfathomable as the passions that rule the human heart.

Review:

Penzler Pick, November 2001: The first in a new series called "Memoirs of a Bow Street Runner," this well-executed historical draws readers back into the London of the early 19th century, when hackney coaches fought for space with brewery carts, horse-drawn chaises, peddlers' wagons, and milling throngs on the city's rough-and-tumble streets.

Banks has created a living, breathing landscape peopled with such characters as Bow Street constable Henry Morton and his intimate acquaintance, actress Arabella Malibrant, along with Chief Bow Street Magistrate Sir Nathaniel Conant, all of whom one will be delighted to encounter again.

When we first meet the large, lean Morton, with his "dark and inquisitive" eyes, the independent-minded officer of the law has been summoned from the boxing ring, where he regularly takes evening exercise, to the Portman Square townhouse of Mrs. Malibrant. There a rich young gentleman in an unfortunate condition (he is dead!) has arrived in a hackney, the driver of which has disappeared into the gloom of night.

Apparently the corpse had been alive enough that very morning to participate in a duel, but he has not succumbed to any wounds sustained in that battle. Upon seeing the body, as Arabella reports to Morton, one of her dinner guests, a Miss Louisa Hamilton, nearly fell over prostrate with grief.

"If you had heard poor Miss Hamilton cry out, Henry, you would have done anything to ease her pain. I tell you, it was wrenching. I could never duplicate it." She pitched her voice low and tried anyway. "'Oh, Richard, Richard...'"

"Very touching, I'm sure," Morton said. "There is only one problem...."

Arabella raised one perfect eyebrow.

"His name was not Richard."

Not all mystery fans enjoy the historical subgenre, while others read nothing else. This book is entertaining enough to appeal to either group, with T.F. Banks possessing the confidence and light touch of an outstanding new talent. --Otto Penzler

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