It happens to all of us–authors and readers alike. Sometimes books just don’t “click” with us. The worst is when “everyone” loves a book and you just don’t. So disappointing and well… I mean, it’s easy to get the feeling there’s something wrong with you. That happened with a book by Michelle Griep a while back, and I’ve been waiting for her next–hoping I’d love whatever it was just as much as I have her other books.
So, when I had a chance to read and review The Thief of Blackfriars Lane recently, of course, I accepted. (More like begged and pleaded, but why get all technical. But then the question must be asked. Did I like it?
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Happy Days Are Literarily Here Again–Thank Goodness!
Most of the time in historical fiction, when you find yourself in 19th century London, it’s not racing through the sewers as fast as your feet can fly through the sludge, clinging to the walls to avoid pursuers, or wedged in an alcove to avoid being flattened by trains.
Can I just say it was wonderful to read something different? (I wanted to say refreshing, but that sewer is still taunting my nostrils!)
With all the wit and banter I fell in love within the first Michelle Griep book I ever read, The Thief of Blackfriars Lane kicks off with a bang and at a quick clip and doesn’t stop moving. I’ve seen some people say they found it difficult to get into the story, but I have to say that I was swept along from the first page. The action only slows long enough for you to catch your breath and do a bit of thinking before the next thing hits.
The moral dilemma of deception as a way of convincing others to do what they should do anyway was played out well, I thought. Kit had a fun twist on the “Robin Hood” mentality, and I loved that she worked hard not to break the law even while breaking the spirit of the law. Her character growth also seemed realistic to me–not too neat and tidy, not too “justified.” She’s awfully young, still. And it takes years to mature enough to see past your thunderpuppy ideals at that age.
My complaints of last time–not here. I didn’t feel the draggy info-dumping or the jarring jump from one style to the next. It wasn’t there this time. My soul sings.
I loved Jackson and Kit. I got a bit tired of a few of the “expletives” Kit and Jackson were fond of. I’m not sure why. They weren’t on every page. Flit! Pah! Gah!
Sigh. Something about them really felt like they were overused, and I suspect that either it’s just me and the time I read it OR it’s that they’re unfamiliar so they stood out more than other ones would. I remember noting a “blast” that didn’t bother me until something else followed and I remembered that. Pretty minor, if you ask me.
Loved seeing Jackson’s faith drive him, make him waver, drive him again, and then sharing it with Kit. After a bit of misplaced sermonizing in her last book, I was cheering this time.
What was my favorite part of The Thief of Blackfriars Lane?
Aside from just the funness of it all, this book has kind of a Miss Phryne Fisher feel to it (but clean!). Kit is clever, but she makes mistakes. She’s not the heroine who does everything perfectly or comes up with the perfect ideas while the bumbling police officer looks like an idiot. No, Jackson is a rookie and makes rookie mistakes, but he has a brain, he uses it, and together, they make a formidable team. She has street smarts. He knows how to think outside the criminal box.
I guess basically, the part I loved best is that neither is a “Mary Sue” character. Both have strengths and imperfections, they play well off each other, and they’ll each grow from one another. And those things I loved.
Most definitely–for readers who love adventuresome historical fiction with a twist of faith and great banter. Not recommended for readers who expect the unsaved to act saved. It doesn’t happen in here. Thank goodness. So glad I requested the free review copy. Pleased that I loved it so much.
The Thief of Blackfriars Lane is on tour with Celebrate Lit
Author: Michelle Griep
Genre: Christian historical
There’s Often a Fine Line Between a Criminal and a Saint
Constable Jackson Forge intends to make the world safer, or at least the streets of Victorian London. But that’s Kit Turner’s domain, a swindler who runs a crew that acquires money the old-fashioned way—conning the rich to give to the poor.
When a local cab driver goes missing, Jackson is tasked with finding the man, and the only way to do that is by enlisting Kit’s help. If Jackson doesn’t find the cabby, he’ll be fired. If Kit doesn’t help Jackson, he’ll arrest her for thievery. Yet neither of them realize those are the least of their problems.
About the Author
Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the Christy Award-winning author of historical romances: A Tale of Two Hearts, The Captured Bride, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at www.michellegriep.com or stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest
More from Michelle
Zootopia in Victorian London
I admit it. I like kid’s movies. You know, the animated sort that entertain both young and old alike. One of my favorites is Zootopia, a rollicking adventure about a bunny whose dream is to be a police officer and make the streets of the big city safe for all animals. In fact, I loved it so much that I thought why not set it in Victorian London?
So I did.
And that’s what The Thief of Blackfriars Lane is all about, but that meant I had to do a little digging into the history of the police force of the late 1800s. Here’s what I learned…
The Metropolitan Police (founded in 1829 by Robert Peel) was composed mostly of young men, many of whom were recruited from rural areas. Few were from London, the philosophy being that they would thus be free from local patronage and influence.
It is a bit of an anomaly that hero Jackson Forge and his friend, Officer Baggett, carry a sidearm. Some did, but most relied on truncheons. It was up to the officer. Revolvers were usually only supplied after the death of a police officer by an armed criminal, at the discretion of the Divisional Officer, or if a constable requested to use one during night duty. In 1884, after the deaths of several police officers, the Home Office ordered nearly a thousand revolvers from Webley & Scott to be issued to branches of the London police. . .which is where I got the idea of a shipment of guns for the villain to attempt to steal.
Police detectives were recruited from within the ranks of existing uniformed officers.
There were actually women on the force at the time, employed as police matrons. But these were behind-the-scenes workers, tasked with guarding women and children. If my heroine, Kit, were to be out in public, serving as Jackson’s assistant, she’d have to keep her job secret. The first female police officer wasn’t seen on the streets until 1919.
And so, armed with that information, I wrote the adventures of not a police bunny and a con artist fox, but of Jackson Forge, a fresh-faced constable, and his thorn in the side, swindler Kit Turner. Snatch up your own copy and enjoy a visit to Victorian London!
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To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of The Thief of Blackfriars Lane!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.