That’s what Claire Donovan is trying to find out. Claire, the heroine of Phillips’ first novel, The Rossetti Letter, is trying to fit in at Trinity – not an easy task for a female American who isn’t a full fellow. Even worse after she punches a colleague in the face — and he turns up dead the next day. Something in Derek Goodman’s research revealed a secret that someone didn’t want made public — a secret they were willing to kill to keep secret. And the clues reside in a 350 year old diary written in some sort of code.
I didn’t read the Rossetti Letter before reading The Devlin Diary. That’s not really a problem — the story stands on it’s own. There are a few potential spoilers though, so be warned. And you will want to read The Rossetti Letter by the time you finish The Devlin Diary.
I’ve read a lot of thrillers lately that really sucked me in, and pulled me along. The pacing in those books was frantic. The Devlin Diary is different; I really didn’t feel pulled along, there wasn’t a real sense of urgency. There were cliffhangers, but they didn’t keep me up all night. This book didn’t pull me so much as it enticed me. I got very curious about how things were going to progress, both in the 1672 mystery and the modern day mystery.
I think that’s what I loved the most with this book. You’re really solving several murders, most of which took place 350 years in the past. We’re following two strong women who are in positions where many people resent their strength. Claire Donovan and Hannah Devlin are so much alike that it’s eerie — for a moment, I was wondering if this was going to turn into a reincarnation/mystical bond type thing between the two, but it (thankfully) didn’t.
This is not a short book, weighing in at 427 pages before the author’s notes. It’s an engaging read, though, that will leave you hungry for more. You’ll learn about Restoration England — probably more than you thought you needed to. I know I’m taking a second look at another book I started and put back about the relationship between England and France throughout the years. But most importantly, you will be entertained, without feeling as if you’ve been on a rollercoaster ride. Those are fun, too, but diversity is also nice.
Of course, now I have to read The Rossetti Letter.