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To Kingdom Come    by Will Thomas order for
To Kingdom Come
by Will Thomas
Order:  USA  Can
Touchstone, 2006 (2005)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Fans of English Victorian mysteries will savor this second in a series featuring Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn. When we join the remarkable enquiry agent and his faithful assistant (the narrator Llewelyn) at the end of May in 1884, someone has detonated explosive devices at Scotland Yard and the prestigious Junior Carlton Club. After those explosions, for which the radical Irish Republican Brotherhood has taken credit, authorities discover an unexploded bomb at the base of Nelson's Column, and Prime Minister Gladstone receives a threatening ultimatum: Either the British government votes for Irish Home Rule in thirty days or the government and the royal family will fall! 'We'll throw London back into the Dark Ages,' say the terrorists.

Barker and Llewelyn - notwithstanding Scotland Yard's reluctance to employ the pair in such a serious matter involving national security - will now embark on an extraordinarily dangerous case. Barker - martial arts expert, book collector, and devoted Bible reader - is a singular fellow. Fond of gunpowder green tea, good food, fine clothing, and a woman known only as The Widow, Barker has a reputation for using rather irregular methods as a private detective but he has consistently been remarkably successful. Llewelyn - a pugnacious Welshman with a weakness for women - has a shadowy past (having spent some time in prison) but now, having been Barker's assistant for two months, says 'I trust my employer implicitly' (in spite of the harrowing adventures chronicled in Lash's Some Danger Involved). Disguising themselves and pretending to be explosives experts sympathetic to Irish terrorists, Barker and Llewelyn infiltrate a group of radicals in a race against time. They must find out who is responsible for the bombing and - in doing so - prevent the threatened destruction of dozens of new targets including Houses of Parliament, the Prime Minister's house, St. Paul's Cathedral, and major train stations throughout London.

To Kingdom Come is an exciting tale overflowing with a profusion of atmospheric details, colorful characters (including Charles Parnell - 'The Uncrowned King of Ireland' - and the poet W. B. Yeats!), and pulse-pounding action. Eerily contemporary with its focus upon terrorism and bombings, Will Thomas's novel is a provocative thriller that readers of historical mysteries and thrillers will most certainly enjoy.

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