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Dance with Death: Barker & Llewelyn #12    by Will Thomas order for
Dance with Death
by Will Thomas
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2021 (2021)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Set in 1892, during the visit of Tsarevich Nicholas to London on the occasion of Prince George's marriage, Dance with Death is a wonderful romp through the city with two detectives - enquirers, as they like to be called. They have been asked by one group to save Nicholas from an attempted assassination, and by another to do nothing of the kind, which of course perks their interest.

The chief enquirer, Barker, is larger than life his size being equal to his exploits before settling down. His assistant Llewelyn is no less interesting, especially because he is the amusing narrator, learning the ropes from the chief. The story moves along quickly and cleverly. For example, in the beginning, everyone is reading newspapers, and what they tell each other clues us to what is going on.

Although there are many characters, Llewelyn helps us keep them straight, and they are so well described. But it is the London of that time that makes the biggest impression. We get to see everything from Kensington Palace to the East End, where no one should have to go or live. Politicians, nobles, fearless cabbies and darting messenger boys are all part of the scene.

Through the strange turns of the story we learn more about Barker and Llewelyn, which makes sense because everyone knows Nicholas survived the visit. What is really clever is how the author both makes Nicholas' fate in London seem life-or-death and entwines the enquirers' lives around this gambit.

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