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Sunday, 20 April 2014

Andrew Taylor - The American Boy

I read 'A Stain on the Silence' and noticed that people were recommending this book as being better, in fact a Richard & Judy bookclub pick.
It is a murder mystery set in the 1800's.  The American Boy is Edgar Allen Poe but how much is fact and how much is fiction I don't really know.
Tom Shield is a tutor at a school in southern England where Edgar Allen is a pupil.  He is asked to accompany a new pupil to the school from his home - charles Frant.  It was here that he first sees Mrs Frant, for whom love is instant.  Edgar Allen becomes a kind of protector of Charles Frant when he is constantly bullied.
A murder near the school is committed and the victim is believed to be Mr Frant.  Tom Shield is asked to identify the corpse as he had previously met Frant but the corpses head is so battered he cannot say 100%.  Previous to the murder a stranger had been seen around the village and nearly succeeded in snatching one of the boys, charles Frant, but Tom Shield had stopped the abduction.  This stranger became the suspect of the murder and Shield is asked by his school headmaster to find & identify him.  The strangers surname is Poe and the intended snatch victim was Edgar Allan not charles Frant.  But why?
This puts Tom Shield in danger.  Mr Frants banking business collapses and the Frant boy is removed from the school.  Tom Shield finds himself a pawn in this mix of sex, money, murder and lies.
This is a complicated story with quite a few characters.  The period is depicted very well but I found my mind wondering at times.  It was good but not memorable.

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