Exquisite Folly

Written by Jonathan Carriel
Review by Anne McNulty

Exquisite Folly, the fourth instalment in Jonathan Carriel’s very entertaining series of adventures set in Colonial America (and its larger world). Featuring enterprising freelance businessman and amateur sleuth Thomas Dordrecht. The narrative ably splits focus between the larger social backdrop – the impending imposition of the Stamp Act in 1765 which is throwing the bustling commercial world of New York City into chaos as merchants scramble to deal with this crippling new tax – and the tensions of the close-up focus: a woman has been found stabbed to death in her own back yard.

The woman, the wife of a wealthy merchant, had been free with her sarcasm for the radical Sons of Liberty and their increasing agitations against British taxes, and her death is further complicated when a slogan of the Sons of Liberty is discovered near her body. The tragedy further enflames animosities all over town, and as usual, our hero Thomas Dordrecht, finds himself squarely in the middle of it all.

Carriel moves all his plot lines forward very convincingly, helped along by a wry, understated humor and a very good ear for dialogue. The Thomas Dordrecht adventures are always worth reading, and Exquisite Folly, like all its predecessors, can easily be read as a stand-alone or starting-point for the rest.