The Clerkenwell Conspiracy

Written by Ann Barker
Review by Carol McGrath

The Clerkenwell Conspiracy is a romantic adventure set in London during the Napoleonic Era. Here the reader finds the potent mix of political adventure by Baroness Orczy alongside the mannered romances of Jane Austen, making for a greatly entertaining story.

The heroine, Eve, is a poor widowed relative reluctantly taken in by Cousin Julia, her protector. Eve is more than a little relieved when opportunity arises with the bequest of a bookshop in Clerkenwell and she is able to escape Cousin Julia’s bullying. However, the bequest comes with an odd collection of dependents and a mystery to be revealed. The stage is set for the development of tight plotting in the form of more than a dash of political intrigue, spies, romance and a pepper pot full of misunderstandings. We don’t lose Cousin Julia and her cronies either.

The novel draws the reader into the Regency world with post haste speed and soon a network of characters enters the pages. As their various motivations are revealed, the reader has a sense that the era is written with confidence and authenticity. Eve is an independent heroine who quickly becomes amiss of the sensibilities expected of any respectable young woman. She is beset with challenges: a business to run, an intrigue involving spies and the attentions of both hero and cad. All these ingredients make for a story with twists and turns as dark as the back lanes of Clerkenwell itself.