Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? by Eleanor Updale

Thief, Liar, Gentleman?

Don’t you love a good, clever double identity story?  If you do, like I do, then I recommend Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? by Eleanor Updale.  The setting is Victorian London and opens with an imprisoned petty thief who nearly died a year earlier when trying to escape from the police.  His broken body is reconstructed by an ambitious doctor and paraded around lecture halls and medical gatherings across the city.  It is at one of these learned discussions that our main character hears about London’s new and very extensive sewer system.  That starts ideas percolating in his head and he spends all his remaining prison time hatching his plan for using the sewers to come and go unseen, to burglarize any London neighborhood of his choice. 


Here is where the double identity comes in.   Our thief wants to live the life of a wealthy, sophisticated gentleman, Montmorency by name, but to live that lifestyle, he must also do the thieving by way of those ghastly, stinking sewers.  Montmorency creates his other identity, the filthy, corrupt servant Scarper to do this work.  Montmorency is cunning and very intelligent, but he must always be on guard, knowing that the smallest mistake could reveal his secret and ruin both his lives. 


This historical thriller/adventure/crime story is a little bit Jekyl and Hyde and a little bit Edgar Allan Poe, but mostly a gripping, clever tale of a likeable convict-turned-gentleman.  I must tell you, though, all the characters are adult and there aren’t any adolescents.  But even as I tell you that, it is also true that Montmorency is youthful and teen-like in his evolving sense of self-discovery and in the often humorous ways he stumbles upon proper society behavior.  This book is first in a series and I know you will want to read the sequels as well.  Happy reading!


Posted by: Fran D.


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