Berkley, Mar 2004, 23.95, 296 pp.
In 1902 on the same day that Edward is crowned as the king, anarchist Yuri Messenko dies when the bomb he carried exploded when he accidentally dropped his satchel setting off the explosive while he strolled through Hyde Park with a purposeful stride. All the king's men believe the deceased was coming to Buckingham Palace to kill the monarch, but the explosive detonated too soon when Yuri tripped. The king's retinue worries that other assassins and terrorists perhaps sponsored by the Clarion newspaper will try again and howl for justice.
The king's equerry Frederick Ponsonby royally orders Lord Charles Sheridan to investigate whether the dead man planned to kill the newly coroneted Edward VII and the probability of other terrorists lurking for the moment to complete the atrocity. Charles begins making inquiries while his wife Kate begins her own investigation.
Robin Paige makes a case that Edward's England is similar to Bush's America just after 9/11. However, instead of allowing the readers to surmise the parallel actions and reactions, Ms. Paige forces the comparisons so that the audience never needs to ponder what they are and why. The inquiries are fun to follow, but take a backseat to the comparisons between then and now. The lead couple remains charming and the rest of the cast is solid though renowned author Jack London will feel off kilter. However, though intriguing, a lot more cerebral inference would have made this a super tale rather than an in your face story.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner