HarperTorch, $7.50, ISBN 0-06-103210-7
Historical Mystery, 2004 (Reissue)
It pains me to say this as I really enjoy the emotional intensity of the main characters in Daughter of the Game, but Beneath a Silent Moon is like a Thea Devine novel minus the campy and lurid soap opera moments and energetic sex. I wonder why the author write this book, because after the wonderful way she has torn down Charles and Mélanie Fraser in Daughter of the Game only to rebuild them by the end, does she actually expect the couple’s story – set two years before Daughter of the Game and all the emotional character development in that book – will be as interesting?
Tracy Grant’s handling of the mystery here is not as substandard as the way she dealt with Colin’s kidnapping in the previous book, but unlike in the previous book where a missing child provides some gripping drama that has me at the edge of my seat, Beneath a Silent Moon has Charles and Méanie investigating the murder of a woman nobody really cares much about. Add in a cast of unsavory sex-fiends that sleep with or want to sleep with each other and his or her governesses, mothers, wives, fathers, brothers, sisters, and sons just like some refugees from a typical Victorian erotica, and I start to wonder whether the title of this book refers someone being positioned under moons – moons in a non-astronomic context, that is – in some sexual situation I don’t really want to dwell too much on. It is not a good thing when someone is murdered in this story and I feel like cheering the murderer on to clean up the filth in the Talbot and Fraser gene pool some more.
Honoria Talbot is murdered. She had sex before she died and she was two months with child. And Honoria has a thing for Charles (first Kitty and now Honoria – wow, Charles is turning into a female-freak magnet). Honoria also did things with men, many men. Just like how the Talbot men did things with their governesses and mistresses. Just like how Charles’s father did things with his sister-in-law and friend’s wives and maybe even his male friends too. So who killed Honoria? Does it matter? Ms Grant seems more concerned with who is sleeping with whom in this story. And without any campy moments or any indication that Tracy Grant is doing the cheap thrills for the sake of cheap thrills only, Beneath a Silent Moon comes off like a bad softporn erotica that is more dysfunctional than deliciously sleazy. I’m just surprised that after everybody’s incessant inbreeding and passing off each other’s kid as the other’s, Charles and his clan aren’t born looking like hirsute cyclopean midget trolls.
Factor in Charles that, well, isn’t interesting at all and Mélanie acting like a martyr (oh no, she has helped Charles expose a friend as a villain – she is so guilty) and this book is one that I wish I haven’t read at all. The good memories of Charles and Mélanie in Daughter of the Game are kind of ruined after I’m done with this unfortunately overly thick gruel of sleaze and dirt.