Norton, Sep 21 2009, $23.95
In 1888 in the Whitechapel section of London Grace Hammer and her children live relatively snug especially when compared with their East End neighbors. She and her kids are expert pickpockets, which is how they fund their fine home.
Having taken purses since she was a child and also training her children to do likewise; Grace has a history; she hopes her past remains buried as some of her victims would like to get back at her if they could find her; which is unlikely because of her residence. However, rusticating not out of choice resides one of her victims, the outraged Mr. Blunt. Years ago a beautiful hooker stole a special treasure from him and he vowed to find her and get back what she purloined and more; as retribution is his. Blunt now knows where she hides and exacts punishment but not by directly targeting her, but like she did with his missing piece take from her what she cherishes most.
This is an engaging late Victorian thriller that in spite of being decades after Oliver Twist took place has a similar sense of locale even with the era and section of London being that of Ripper. The fast-paced tale is at its best when the focus subtly is on the dark atmosphere of the East End underground; on the other hand when Sara Stockbridge indulgently turns poetic with flowery figures of speech GRACE HAMMER loses some of its taut dark edge even when the metaphors and similes are gloomy. Still fans will enjoy this fine historical suspense tale in anticipation of High Noon in Whitechapel.