The Spider’s Touch
The Birth of Blue Satan introduced readers to Gideon Viscount St. Mars and Mrs. Kean. In that book, Gideon–unfairly accused of murdering his father–was forced to don the disguise of the highwayman Blue Satan in order to remain free long enough to discover, with Mrs. Kean’s assistance, his father’s actual murderer. In The Spider’s Touch, he is still an outlaw, but has agreed to return to England from the safety of his estate in France to serve as a messenger for James Stuart, who hopes to regain the crown lost by his father. The plot revolves around the Jacobite cause, as Mrs. Kean has become caught up in it as well, much more unwittingly than has Gideon.
While the book is in the mystery genre, it does not initially have the feel of a mystery (a murder occurs shortly before the halfway point). It is filled with a sense of the period through details of dress, customs, setting, and most importantly, politics. The author provides a “Historical Background” section at the start of the book, and an “Author’s Note,” which provides information on what is fact and what is fiction, ends the volume. The book starts slowly, but once Gideon returns to England, the stage has been set and the action begins. I look forward to #3 in the series.