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The Tiger in the Well


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Pullman is fast becoming a modern-day Charles Dickens for young adults. The setting (Victorian London) is the same; the strong eye for characters large and small is there, as are the sometimes brooding atmosphere, the social conscience, the ability to spin plot within plot against a large landscape, and the occasional editorial comment. These last are not intrusive; the author's voice is that of a friend, filling in details in a story he has witnessed, not wanting readers to miss a thing. Sally Lockhart, first met in Ruby in the Smoke (1987) and Shadow in the North (1988, both Knopf), is now a young woman, left alone with a toddler since the death of her lover, Frederick Garland. Nothing prepares her for the shock of receiving a summons from a man she has never even heard of, suing her for divorce and the custody of her beloved Harriet. Two other figures emerge: Daniel Goldberg, a Jewish slum radical with a violent past; and the ironically titled Tzaddik (saint), who preys on helpless European Jewish immigrants. The Tiger in the Well is the story of their converging paths, as Sally struggles against the net closing around her and seeks to find out who is persecuting her and why. The writing style is lively and direct, and there's lots of action. While Sally's story is for mature readers, it is never sordid or sensational. This is a suspense novel with a conscience, and a most enjoyable one. --Barbara Hutcheson, Greater Victoria Public Library, B.C., Canada

The conclusion to Pullman's dramatic trilogy ( The Ruby in the Smoke ; Shadow in the North ) finds Sally Lockhart searching London's slums for the source of her ruination. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)

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