FICTION

The Skull and the Nightingale

Morrow. Aug. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9780062202352. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062202376. F
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Richard Fenwick, a young man without family or means, returns to England after a European grand tour that was financed by the godfather he barely knows. He wonders what his godfather expects of him, and the proposition James Gilbert has for his godson is surprising to say the least. James is a careful man who led a sedate existence; now he wishes to taste some of the wild side of life through Richard's exploits. It quickly becomes apparent, however, that James is not content to observe but rather is a master manipulator whose experiments with the lives of those around him have already led to heartbreak. If Richard continues on this path, more lives will be ruined.
VERDICT Set in 18th-century England, this debut novel of manipulation and seduction evokes Pierre Choderlos de Laclos's classic Les Liaisons Dangereuses. The author brings James Gilbert to chilling life and vividly renders the darker side of the Age of Enlightenment. Readers who like their history served up with conquest and betrayal will enjoy this page-turner. [See Prepub Alert, 2/18/13.]

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