zaterdag 24 januari 2015

Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris – The Janus Affair

The second book in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, published May 29, 2012.
Genre: steampunk
Cover: great

The Janus Affair photo n394763_zps77cc1f07.jpg

Evildoers beware! Retribution is at hand, thanks to Britain's best-kept secret agents!!
Certainly no strangers to peculiar occurrences, agents Wellington Books and Eliza Braun are nonetheless stunned to observe a fellow passenger aboard Britain's latest hyper steam train suddenly vanish in a dazzling bolt of lightning. They soon discover this is not the only such disappearance . . . with each case going inexplicably unexamined by the Crown.
The fate of England is once again in the hands of an ingenious archivist paired with a beautiful, fearless lady of adventure. And though their foe be fiendishly clever, so then is Mr. Books . . . and Miss Braun still has a number of useful and unusual devices hidden beneath her petticoats.

I have really fallen for this genre lately, combining historical times with technology and adventure and danger and fun inventions and automatons and especially dirigibles (some kind of zeppelins / hot air balloons with a steam engine).

This is the second adventure Mr. Wellington Books and Miss Eliza Braun are experiencing together, and it was fun and exiting to read. Apparently, back home in New Zealand, Miss Braun was a member of the suffragette movement, and a close friend to its leader. Here in London she is no stranger to the movement either.

Wellington and Eliza are returning from an adventure in Scotland by hyper steam train, when a woman Eliza knows vanishes into tin air after something like a lightning bolt hits her in the middle of the aisle inside the train. The passengers around her are affected by sunburns. So when Eliza is asked by Kate Sheppard, her friend from New Zealand, and here in London to speak to the English suffragettes, to look into things, she promises to help. This was not the first woman who has gone missing, but no one is taking it seriously. Especially not their fellow Agent who is supposed to research the cases.

Investigating this case is difficult, as they have to do it in secret, so their boss doesn’t find out. Also, there is not much to go on. One of the lady suffragettes is Diamond Dottie, one of London’s biggest criminals. She runs a big ring of female thieves and such, and is very successful in her chosen line of work. Eliza thinks her a good suspect although Wellington does not agree with her, but after Eliza gets attacked in her own home by some of Dottie’s assassins, they have to act. With the help of the Ministry Seven, a bunch of street kids that Eliza uses as her spies on the street, they manage to break into Dottie’s home.
But Dottie is not behind it, and to Eliza’s surprise, she even helps her when Wellington has been taken as well... He was too close to figuring out who really was behind it all ...

I really enjoyed this story. It was a great adventure, and the mystery was not easy to solve. In fact, the reasons behind the abductions were made by a crazy woman, so no one will be able to solve it before our heroes find out. I loved how Eliza and we learn more about Wellington Books and his past. He is not as stuffy as Eliza thinks he is. He is a decorated hero from the Boer Wars, and a sharpshooter. He might not like guns, but he sure knows how to use them. And he is quite the inventor of gadgets himself.
I also like Eliza’s housekeeper/maid Alice a lot. She lost her legs in an accident, and now has prosthesis legs, with some surprises build inside.
And then there is Kate Shephard’s son Douglas. Eliza’s first love has come back for her, but Eliza doesn’t need nor want a man to take care of her, she is perfectly able to take care of herself, and of the Realm. As she has proven a few times. So when Douglas wants to treat her as she was when they first meet and she was just a starry eyed teenager, that does not sit well with her. Eliza also starts to realise she does have feelings for Wellington.
Another villain is Sophia de la Morte, who keeps popping up again, and who is working for the Maestro. The real super villain behind it all. He also has the Duke of Essex in his pocket, the Queens’ personal secretary, and an enemy of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. He needs access to something archived in the restricted area, and the Ministry to be shut down.

A common enemy makes allies out of other enemies, and that makes for some great reading. Especially when Sophia makes a pass at Wellington.

This is a really good mix of action and suspense with a dash of romance thrown in, but most importantly, great characters and a good plot. And really weird and evil villains. I can’t wait to find out who is the real puppetmaster.

9 stars.

A blogger made me buy itLove this book

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© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

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