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Rose
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About the Author

Martin Cruz Smith lives with his wife in northern California; they have three children. For Rose he won the Hammett Prize from the International Association of Crime Writers. He is also the author of Nightwing, Stallion Gate, and the bestselling Arkady Renko thrillers, Gorky Park, Polar Star, Red Square, and Havana Bay, his latest book.

Reviews

In his latest offering, Smith (Nightwing, Audio Reviews, LJ 4/1/92) focuses on a place and time unfamiliar to most people. Set in 19th-century England, the story centers around the short and violent lives of coal miners in the small town of Wigan. On the surface, the upper class hold sway while the miners eke out a miserable existence in the "pit." An American adventurer named Blair is hired to solve the disappearance of a cleric who was engaged to the daughter of the bishop, who, coincidently, owns the mine. Blair arrives from West Africa, gin-soaked and ill with malaria. He finds Charlotte, the fiancée, cold and remote, with little concern over the disappearance of Maypole, her husband-to-be. Blair soon uncovers information that leads him to believe that the cleric was involved with Rose, one of the pit girls. Blair's encounter with Rose fascinates and puzzles him, and he soon grows more involved with her. Unable to understand the relationship among Charlotte, Rose, and Maypole, Blair soon uncovers shocking secrets and unsavory happenings that should disgust him but instead appeal to his own dark nature. While Smith's efforts to bring this era to light are laudatory, the unremitting bleakness of both the landscape and characters is less entertaining than disturbing. The ending, while surprising, offers too little too late. Only collections supporting diehard Cruz fans should bother.‘Roxanna Herrick, Washington Univ. Lib., St. Louis

Though Arkady Renko is absent from Smith's latest novel, the author of Red Square (1992), etc., has created instead a new protagonist, Jonathan Blair, a 19th-century man in the best muscular detective tradition. Until 1872, Blair was an avid explorer of Africa's Gold Coast, but now he has been exiled by his employer, Bishop Hannay, to the Lancashire mining town of Wigan. Blair's ostensible mission is to find John Rowland, the missing curate who was engaged to Hannay's daughter, but he quickly learns that he'll need all his bush survival skills just to stay alive in Wigan, where no one seems to want the curate found. Much of Blair's gritty charm lies in his hatred of all things English, just as he is hated in turn by the aristocratic Hannays, their peer relations, the Rowlands-and the miners. On the first day of his investigation, Blair steps on nearly every toe in a very touchy town, including those of Bill Jaxon, a miner skilled at a blood sport in which naked men fight with brass-studded clogs. Blair ends up on the wrong end of a clog more than once when he intuits that Jaxon's "pit girl" (a woman who sorts coal) may have lured the curate to his doom. Smith molds a spirited, sexy mystery and fires it with his characteristic love of atmosphere. But his real treat for readers is Blair, whose spicy observations imbue even this gray landscape with prismatic color, and whose verbal sparring matches with the Hannays and Rowlands are equal to Waugh in their hilarious, scathing send-up of English upper-class incivility. Smith's extravagant talent runs the spectrum here from sparkling dialogue and tantalizing mystery to grim, graphic depictions of mining life that sear both the conscience and the imagination. Simultaneous Random House Audio and large-print edition; author tour. (May)

"A superb thriller that will keep the reader breathless right up to the final page."
--San Francisco Chronicle

"THE MOST INTERESTING AND RICHLY TEXTURED CRIME STORY OF THE SEASON."
--Time "[SMITH] AT THE TOP OF HIS FORM . . . It is fun, the well-plotted, dense fun of an intelligent, shadowy, literary enigma. . . . Brisk and edifying entertainment."
--The New York Times "A JOY TO READ."
--The Washington Post Book World

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