The Ruffian on the Stair
Review: Freelance writer Seb Rolvenden investigates his grandfather's role in the disappearance of a painter and his masterpiece in The Ruffian on the Stair, a most intriguing mystery by Gary Newman.
Following the death of his grandfather for whom he was named, Seb is excited when he receives his Sebastian's papers from his lawyer. As a writer, he sees this as a book in the making. The notebook is not complete, however, as pages have been torn out and are missing. What is clear, though, is that his grandfather, at the age of 24, was in France and wanted to become an artist. He had become friends with well known impressionist painter Julian Rawbeck. Together they lived an unsavory life dealing in drugs, alcohol, illicit love, and more. Sebastian had fallen in love with Carrie Bugle, a saloon dancer and strip-teaser. Another friend, "Vickybird" had enjoyed the company of both men and women. The woman was usually Carrie. On an April night in 1899, upset with the road his life was taking, Sebastian drugged himself into a stupor. When he awoke in the night, naked, he fumbled around for his clothes and in doing so found the body of his friend Julian. His throat had been slashed and his latest masterpiece, The Ruffian on the Stair, was missing. Seb begins a pursuit in search of the truth. Did his grandfather kill Rawbeck and steal the picture? Where is Carrie, and who is "Vickybird"? During his travels to the places mentioned in his grandfather's notebook, it soon becomes apparent that there are others who are also seeking the old haunts of Sebastian for they, too, want the truth. But not as much to determine what actually happened as to finding Rawbeck's masterpiece.
The Ruffian on the Stair is a complex, intricate, and ultimately very satisfying story of love and hate, trust and betrayal. But is also combines the past with the present illustrating striking parallels between grandfather Sebastian and grandson Seb's lives. There are a multitude of mysteries here, and surprises in abundance. Seb's enthusiasm for his quest, and the dangers that result, will have readers eagerly turning the pages to see what happens next.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of The Ruffian on the Stair.
Acknowledgment: Soho Press provided a copy of The Ruffian on the Stair for this review.
Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in The Ruffian on the Stair: London, England
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The Ruffian on the Stair by Gary Newman
Publisher: Soho Press
Publication Date: November 2008
List Price: $25.00
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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