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    THE THIEF TAKER by T. F. Banks

    MEMOIRS OF A BOW STREET RUNNER

    Delacorte Press, October 2001

    It's 1815 and the modern police are being born. With Napoleon on the loose in Belgium and the Regency in full force in England, the Bow Street Runners are among the first professional police departments in the world. Yet many hate them and their bounties paid on conviction do provide significant inducements toward corruption.

    Bow Street Runner Henry Morton strides the line between society and the rabble of London. When his lady-friend calls on him to investigate a suspicious death, he suspects murder--even though the attending doctor assures him that the young man's death was the result of drunkenness. Morton suspects poisoning.

    His investigations lead him into London's high society and into the deepest cesspools of sin. The victim was last seen in a tavern that serves men who enjoy young girls. When the barkeep insists that Bay Street is aware of their establishment, Morton suspects a police connection--one that threatens to ruin his own carefully constructed life.

    Regency England is the familiar subject of many romance novels and comedies of manner. T. F. Banks shows both sides of this remarkable era where extremes of poverty and wealth live side by side. Morton is an interesting character--unconcerned enough about society's rules to love an actress who shares her affections fairly broadly, yet with a deep belief in the fundamentals of justice. Although a few of the twists in this enjoyable plot are a little far-fetched, Banks's writing helps you overlook these in your haste to find out what happens next.

    Four Stars

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