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THE MISTAKEN WIFE
by Rose Melikan
Touchstone, September 2010
404 pages
$15.00
ISBN: 1416560904


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

It's 1797, Britain and France are at war, the French Revolution has altered the landscape of that country and the mind-set of its citizens, and Mary Finch is back in the espionage game. In this third outing in the series, Finch, 22 and an heiress, is once again called upon by spymaster Cuthbert Shy. He asks her to go to Paris, posing as the wife of an American artist, Samuel Vangenzen. Although France and the newly-formed United States are allies, the U.S. has remained neutral in the war, and American envoys have been sent to Paris to resolve differences arising from this stance. Finch is sent to Paris to try to disrupt these negotiations.

In the meantime, her beau, Capt Robert Holland, is also in France on a covert assignment: to steal the plans for the Ammonite, an early submarine developed by Irish inventor Samson Boyle, and to bring the man himself back to Britain, if possible. Neither Finch nor Holland know of each other's plans, although their paths will cross in Paris. They also will come across an old nemesis. And a new foe more ruthless than the first is watching their every move.

While Finch and Holland are fictional, the author has used actual historical events and people, among them the negotiations between the French and Americans, and the real-life American inventor Robert Fulton, who went to Paris in 1797 hoping to sell his submarine, the Nautilus, to the French government. Melikan's attention to historical detail brings us vivid descriptions of Paris and the French countryside, ravaged by the French Revolution; of a guillotining that Finch unexpectedly comes across; and of French citizens still becoming accustomed to new regimens. If you are expecting a fast-paced spy thriller, this is not it. But this is an intriguing espionage novel that rings true Finch's actions are those of an amateur spy, but it works in this novel (as a first-time reader, you can't help but wonder why Finch was even chosen for this mission, but presumably that is explained by her exploits in the earlier books ).

The paperback edition of this novel comes with some extras that are a bonus: maps, a reading group guide and a question-and-answer with the author. THE MISTAKEN WIFE is sure to please mystery fans with an interest in history

Lourdes Venard is a newspaper editor in Long Island, N.Y..

Reviewed by Lourdes Venard, September 2010

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