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The King of the Book

Marian Halcombe Camlet’s son has run away from his boarding school, and Queen Victoria’s jewels are stolen.

The King of the Book

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Release Date : February 16, 2021

ISBN Number : 978-1-61138-942-5


Kindle Reader = Mobi
Others = Epub


Marian Halcombe #2
The Thrilling Victorian Adventures of the Most Dangerous Woman in Europe

Marian Halcombe Camlet’s son has run away from his boarding school, and Queen Victoria’s jewels are stolen.

Marian Halcombe Camlet has just given birth to her first son, so it’s not a good time for crisis. But her older stepson has run away from his abusive boarding school. And a fortune in diamonds and pearls, destined for Queen Victoria, has been stolen through the Camlet publication offices. Juggling maternity and parenting within the strict confines of Victorian womanhood, Marian attacks with all her customary vehemence.


Just last night finished reading Marian Halcombe: The Thrilling Victorian Adventures of the Most Dangerous Woman in Europe, by Brenda W. Clough, and I had such a good time! The steadfast alliance between Marian, the dangerous woman of the title, and her more decorous sister, Laura, is a delight, as is the growing consternation of the men – hero and villain alike – as they come to realize just exactly what – who! – it is they’re dealing with. The book’s voice is pitch perfect, which adds to the fun. I’m in for the next one.
– Sharon Lee, co-author of the Liaden Universe® novels

It’s a sequel to The Woman In White – but it’s so much more than that. This is a bodice-ripping yarn, a Victorian melodrama with a modern sensibility, a delightful romp, a thriller and a romance and a comedy of manners all at once. I adored it.
– Chaz Brenchley, author of Three Twins at the Crater School

Brenda Clough’s invincible and endearing Marian Halcombe Camlet easily enters the company of Jane Marple, Miss Maud Silver, Pamela North, and Prudence Ford as a British female sleuth in the mid-1800s. The Marian novels are an absolute joy to read.
– Paul S. Piper, author of The Wolves of Mirr

A ripping yarn! Thrilling, lushly Victorian, with a dashing heroine who is not even handsome, yet she bags a delightful husband – not without considerable heroic effort and derring-do – and upholds the finest traditions of pure womanhood! (Well… kinda pure.)
– Jennifer Stevenson, author of Local Magics


Brenda W. Clough writes novels. These include How Like A God from Tor Books, and the Edge to Center time travel trilogy from BVC. Also look for Revise the World, expanded from her Hugo and Nebula finalist novella, and Speak to Our Desires.

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Book 1
From the journal of Micah Brickley Camlet, age 11 yrs.


Sandett House
25 August 1861

My dearest son,

Just a note to inform you that Miss Marian has been safely delivered. You now have a younger half-brother! He is to be christened William Walter Halcombe Camlet. As you may imagine we are all most joyful here. Miss Marian is blooming and sends you her best love.

I hope your first week at boarding school goes well, and that you are learning your way about St. Botolph’s. I enclose a note from Lottie (in code! How clever of the two of you – I am utterly thwarted and baffled!) and a plum cake. Do not eat it all at once, I beg!

Believe me always,

Affectionately yours,


I paste in this note which I have just received from my father Mr. Theophilus Camlet. I am now in the plainest and most mortal danger. Just like David Copperfield (I have finished his story just this day, having sat up all night reading) I have been supplanted by a son by my parent’s new wife! I daresay Papa will die any day. I had intended to share this cake out among my mates, but I dare not put Jervey, Culford and Porch into danger. It’s probably poisoned. At great sacrifice I ate it all myself, and am now desperately ill. In spite of this had to spend an hour cleaning Mulready Major’s boots. I expect to die shortly. When this is found among my effects, please give this journal to my sister, Miss Charlotte V. Camlet, at Sandett House in Hampstead, north of London. She surely shares my peril!

Things I hate about school # 14: Sharing a bed with Culford. I have had my own bed since I was born. He hogs all the covers, and smells bad.

27 August

Began Oliver Twist. Could it be that the cake was not poisoned after all? Mrs. B gave me a horrid dose of bitters, which she brews herself out of poisonous herbs and berries, eye of newt optional, when the moon is on the wane. I’m almost sorry to report it set me right up. Because I did not share, Culford and Jervey took me out behind the coal shed and pounded me. I now have a bloody nose and a black eye. Matron said boys will be boys. I showed her the tooth which is still loose from last week, but she says it’s a milk tooth and will fall out sometime anyway.

Here is the note from Lottie, which I have now decoded:

Hallo, Mickey.

What? They let you read novels at boarding school? Of course I won’t rat to Papa! How has he led us to believe that children may not read fiction published after 1800? We are condemned to peruse Macaulay’s History of England! Tell me all about David Copperfield, instantly!

XXOO Lottie

Thank goodness we agreed to communicate in our private code. It’s better for my sister to discover now, early in life, that the best of men may be deluded and that even my father (whose intelligence is otherwise very tolerable) may be blinded by affection and led astray.

Things I hate about school #15: There was a layer of grease on the tea today. Soap was not used when washing the crockery. Drank it anyway.

28 August

Mr. Holly, the mathematics master, says that if I do not apply myself he shall cane me. The daily flogging that Old Buggerhum administers to each of us in turn after supper is to set a high tone of moral and gentlemanlike feeling, and has no effect upon my learning square roots.

Mr. Byland, the history master, teaches us nothing. Today he read to us from the newspaper accounts of a civil war in the United States. It is a major conflagration, not to be missed. The instant I matriculate from this Hole I shall cross the sea and enlist in the Union Army. Fighting slave holders cannot be worse than St. Botolph’s. And a British public-school man will be a distinct asset, surely welcomed among the colonial ranks. Perhaps they will let me man a cannon! In the meantime I have finished Oliver Twist and begun reading Nicholas Nickleby.

Things I hate about school #16: Boys have but one change of linen a fortnight. We all are afflicted with fleas, which infest the mattresses so that they may never be eradicated.

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So begins the story of two people whose lives appear fragmented across alternate realities.