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by Robert McCammon
Pocket Books, October 2007
656 pages
ISBN: 1416552618

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Law clerk Matthew Corbett lives in New York City before the Revolutionary War in 1703. New York is on the brink of becoming an important city and all the inhabitants feel the electricity of the future each day. But the importance of the city is still years to come. In the meantime New York has some problems, one of which is the Masker. The Masker prowls the dark nights slashing the throats of prominent men.

Matthew, even though he is a lowly law clerk, has had some experience in solving crimes and dreams of going to England to somehow get his law degree and help bring about justice. But until then, Matthew still tries to get justice done.

Eben Ausley used to abuse boys in an orphanage where Matthew spent his childhood. He still runs the place. Even though he never abused Matthew, he did abuse some of Matthew's friends, including John Five. Each night Matthew follows Ausley as he makes his rounds from tavern to tavern, drinking, gambling and writing notes in a book that he always carries. Matthew is sure that he will get the proof of Ausley's deeds and eventually have him arrested. But soon Matthew doesn't have to worry about Ausley because the Masker kills him.

Matthew eventually gets involved in finding the Masker. The wife of one of his victims hires Matthew to find the murderer, but she will only pay him if he stops the man before he kills again.

Then Matthew is offered a job at Katherine Herrald's agency. The Herrald Agency "solves problems" and Katherine, hearing about how well Matthew does just that, offers him a job. It is here where Matthew meets Hudson Greathouse who teaches him about fencing and defending himself.

In his role of 'detective' at the agency, Matthew, accompanied by Greathouse, is asked to meet with potential clients, two doctors, at a mental hospital near Philadelphia. There they are introduced to The Queen Of Bedlam, an old woman who rarely speaks, though when she does, she only asks if "the King's reply has come in." A Philadelphia lawyer pays the doctors very well to help the woman, but the lawyer will not tell them her name. The doctors would like the Herrald Agency to identify her.

After trying to talk with the Queen, Matthew realizes that she is somehow linked with the Masker and his victims, and he is determined to find out what her secret is.

THE QUEEN OF BEDLAM is author Robert McCammon's newest book. He takes us into the early years of New York City but lets the readers see how it will become one of, if not the, most important city in the country that will soon become the United States.

The inhabitants of the city also know that big changes are on the way. People are leaving England and moving to New York to become a part of it. Agencies like the Herrald Agency are starting businesses there. Even inhabitants from other great cities, like Philadelphia, are moving to New York.

Author McCammon makes New York come alive for the readers. He perfectly describes the bustle of the city and the lives of its people. The author adds enough history to give us a view of what really happened, but he's never boring. The writing is fascinating.

As Matthew roams New York we visit Trinity Church, Broad Way (which eventually became Broadway), and we meet some factual historical characters like New York's new governor, Cornbury, who dressed in his wife's clothing.

The mystery of how the Masker intertwines with The Queen of Bedlam is solid and well crafted. There are numerous story lines that weave in and out of the main plot in this massive book, but eventually they all come together to make a magnificent story.

If you've never read any of McCammon's books try this one out. Though the author writes some superb science fiction, THE QUEEN OF BEDLAM is not in that genre. Visit New York City in its early years and meet all the people who helped it become what it is today.

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, July 2007

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