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Ratings and Book Reviews (2 2 star ratings
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  • 1 person found this review helpful

    1 people found this review helpful

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    Not for the faint of heart!

    This one is not for the faint of heart. It’s an extremely gritty and graphic crime novel set in the 1880’s and featuring a gender fluid main character. There’s copious sex and violence and a complex mystery regarding organized crime and the theft of opium. I have to admit that after the first few chapters I thought it might be too intense for me and considered giving up. I’m no prude and usually not too disturbed by violence but this was pretty extreme and I wasn’t sure it was going to be for me. I’m so glad I continued because I ended up loving it! I read a fair bit of historical fiction and this one stood out, not just for its brutality and carnality but also for its ability to put me right in the scenes with the characters, often an unpleasant place indeed! The story was incredibly detailed and well-written but the writing was very dense so it took me longer than usual to chew my way through. The plot was complex and it took some thought to keep all the characters and their allegiances straight. This was not a quick and easy read but in the end I was rewarded by a tremendously compelling story, vivid scenes and characters that felt like real people. No one was entirely good or bad and that was strangely appealing. The ending wasn’t entirely shocking as I suspected it might be the only possible conclusion but it sure was breathtaking and a complete punch in the gut (and the heart.) This is truly one of the best historical fiction books I have read. It’s a crime novel, a vivid depiction of a particular time and place, and an exploration of gender and identity all wrapped into an entertaining story. Highly recommended!
  • 0 person found this review helpful

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    Historical undercover spies

    Port Townsend, Washington Territory, 1887. Alma has been working undercover for the Pinkerton Agency until she is dismissed for not following orders. As her alter ego, Jack Camp, she is able to infiltrate places no woman can go. In her manly disguise, she works as a dockworker looking for a shipment of opium. Only now she works for Delphine, a woman that Alma is also having an affair with. Since she is bisexual, Delphine is not her only lover. After infiltrating a local gang and looking for a promotion, she is risking everything. I liked this book, but I didn't love it. I didn't think Alma was believable as a spy. I liked Nathaniel Wheeler most of any of the other characters. It is written in a time where women were limited in what they could do. Being part of Pinkerton was something special. I received this book from Net Galley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for a honest review and no compensation otherwise.The opinions expressed are my own.
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