The Raven's Seal by Andrei Baltakmens

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In the fictional 18th-century city of Airenchester, England, the body of Thaddeus Grainger's rival turns up stabbed to death in an alley just hours after their inconclusive duel. Only one suspect comes to mind. Charged with murder, Grainger's fate is sealed before his trial even begins.

A young gentleman of means but of meaningless pursuits, Grainger is cast into the notorious Bellstrom Gaol, where he must quickly learn to survive in the filthy, ramshackle prison. The "Bells"--where debtors, gaolers, whores, thieves, and murderers all mix freely and where every privilege comes at a price--will be the young man's home for the rest of his life unless he can prove his innocence.

Despite his downfall, his friends--the journalist William Quillby and Cassie Redruth, the poor young girl who owes Grainger a debt of gratitude--refuse to abandon him. But before they can win his freedom, they must contend with forces both inside and outside the prison determined to keep Grainger behind bars and, at the same time, decode the meaning behind the crude wax seal that inspires terror in those who know its portent.

Set against the urban backdrop of late 18th-century England, THE RAVEN'S SEAL unravels a tale of corruption, betrayal, murder, and--ultimately--redemption and love.

"Baltakmens captures the flavor and scope of classic British fiction." --Kirkus Reviews

atmospheric, character-driven, and plot-twisty bildungsroman is a
worthy paean to Oliver Twist and Great Expectations." --Booklist

"Baltakmens gives readers of The Raven's Seal all of the
history and the mystery his subtitle promises. The mood, color, details,
and dialogue come across as very authentic . . . [his] characters would
not be out of place in a work of Defoe or Thackeray. --ForeWord

"The author's exquisite prose rushes along full of surprises,
shadows, betrayal, and squalid situations where the high-born and
criminals intermix. A superb mystery with vibrant characters." --Historical Novels Review

About Andrei Baltakmens

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Andrei Baltakmens was born in New Zealand and holds a Ph.D. in English literature focused on Charles Dickens. His first novel, The Battleship Regal, was published in New Zealand in 1996. He continues to publish short fiction and is currently a graduate student in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, where he lives with his wife and son. The Raven’s Seal is his first book to be published in the U.S. 
Published October 13, 2012 by Top Five Books. 419 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Raven's Seal

Kirkus Reviews

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When Grainger's self-appointed rival, righteous Piers Massingham, makes the mistake of manhandling Cassie, harsh speeches soon escalate into fighting words.

Oct 18 2012 | Read Full Review of The Raven's Seal

ForeWord Reviews

Such are but two of the many colorful and engaging Dickensian denizens of the grim eighteenth-century English city of Airenchester, a place doomed to labor under the twin shadows of “the old Bellstrom Gaol” and a secretive, criminal mastermind known as “The Black Claw.” With his PhD in English ...

Nov 01 2012 | Read Full Review of The Raven's Seal

The Copperfield Review

Baltakmens brings Airenchester to life the way Dickens brought London alive—through descriptions so vivid you feel as though you’re standing alongside the characters.

Nov 03 2012 | Read Full Review of The Raven's Seal

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