My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I rather liked this — to be completely honest, I should give it something like 3.5 stars. It’s a well-researched historical, with people and attitudes mostly complying with their imagined time (the Regency period). It’s also a well-constructed mystery, which managed to keep me guessing until almost the end, which is a rarity.
Another plus side is the characterization. The main character, Captain Lacey, is a retired soldier who managed to only just miss Waterloo. He comes with so much baggage it could cover a whole day’s worth at Waterloo station, but all of it is well done, up to and including the fact that he recognizes his condition, calling it melancholia, which is appropriate for the time. His former commander and former best friend is somewhat sketchy, but the real best friend, the former commander’s wife, is intriguing as a character herself, although occasionally she comes across a little too good to be true. Other characters — the street-girl with the hots for the Captain, for instance — are also truly interesting, and avoid clichés (no, the whore does not have a heart of gold, and, being 17, she acts like a teenager a lot of the time, which I felt was a really nice touch).
It’s rather bleak reading; it’s nice to see the Regency era not getting all romanticized for a change, but for some, it might be too bleak at moments. However, the bleakness, at least for me, never slipped over into unbearable territory, and, in fact, made the whole more interesting. I’m looking forward to reading the next installments.