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'The power that I have dreamed of all my life is mine at last!'
How far is a mother prepared to go to secure her daughter's future? Madame Fontaine, widow of an eminent chemist, has both the determination and the cunning to bring young Minna's marriage plans to fruition, with dangerous consequences for anyone who dares to stand in her way. But has she met her match in Jack Straw, one-time inmate of Bedlam lunatic asylum? It will take a visit to the morgue to find out who triumphs - and who comes out alive.
Reminiscent of Collins's blockbusters The Woman in White and Armadale, this suspenseful case study in villainy is set against the financial world of 1820s Frankfurt and tells the story of two widows, one of them devoted to realizing her husband's social reforms, the other equally devoted to the pursuit of her daughter's happiness.
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Jason David Hall is a senior lecturer at University of Exeter.