The Flaw in the Blood

Written by Stephanie Barron
Review by Patrika Salmon

This is a strange book, a thriller set in Victoria’s Britain of 1861, but one with very high-class villains. It’s based on an idea which has been around for some time, and the arguments for and against the premise continue. In the novel the hero, one Patrick Fitzgerald, is part of a firm of barristers who defended the man who attempted to kill the Queen some twenty years earlier. As Prince Albert lies dying, Fitzgerald is ordered to the Palace by the Queen. Accompanied by the romance interest, Georgianna Armistead, female doctor and niece to John Snow, he makes his way there and finds himself embroiled in a bitter struggle about affairs of state with the Queen. Life is then all downhill for Fitzgerald as he dashes madly around London and the Continent trying to save his and Georgie’s necks and find out why someone wants to kill them both.

I’m not sure how Anglophiles or historians with a detailed knowledge of Victoria’s reign would view the author’s inventions, or her portrayal of the Queen. As pure melodrama, for a reader with a dislike of monarchies and strong Irish sympathies, it will go down well. As historical fiction, well, it’s more fantasy than fiction, and nastily violent with it.