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Stealing the Elf-King's Roses    by Diane Duane order for
Stealing the Elf-King's Roses
by Diane Duane
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2002 (2002)

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* * *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

I regret to relate that I am familiar only with the author's Wizard tales for teens, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This story, however, is a very different kettle of fish, or better perhaps, bowl of roses? It reads as if it were the latest in a series, and if so, I shall forthwith search out any others.

Lee Enfield, (I presume the author knew she had named her heroine after a famous British Army rifle) is a practicing forensic lanthanomancer. She uses the Sight to investigate, and prosecute crimes in partnership with Gelert, who resembles a very large, talking dog. He comes from one of the four other alternate Earths which have so far been discovered and opened up for trade and tourism. Another is the home of the Elves, who have a monopoly on a very precious substance, Fairy Gold, and a deserved reputation for arrogance and fanatical isolationism.

When an Elf who works for a large multi-world corporation is murdered, Lee and Gelert are given the contract to prosecute by Matt, the assistant D.A., a former lover of Lee's who betrayed her trust but for whom she still feels strongly. The deeper they delve into the crime, the greater become its ramifications, though the human who pulled the trigger is easily, too easily, found.

They discover links to the Elves, and to the Elf King himself, and are included in a group permitted under protest to visit the Elf world and investigate there. Lee breaks the invisible bounds which the Elves have set upon the group, and risks her life to uncover a conspiracy spanning the worlds, and which may result in the devastation of them all, if Lee is not prepared to take enormous risks and place enormous trust in another person.

The author has imagined a fascinating Universe, and peopled it with complex and believable characters (not excluding Gelert). The plot holds the interest throughout, and builds up to a breakneck climax. Top notch, don't miss it.

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