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“He was the shameful cause of his sister Elena's death and he stole state papers from England, yet Adrian Hart is feted by the best of society in Rome, and boldly dubs himself 'Iago'. Determined to avenge Elena, his unrequited love, Lieutenant Andrew Sullivan asks the advice of poet and Shakespearian John Keats, and his artist friend Severn. Soon Percy and Mary Shelley join them, then Lord Byron and his servant Fletcher. But how can the seven of them work against this man, when they can't even agree what he is? The atheist Shelley insists that Hart is an ordinary man, while Byron becomes convinced he's the Devil incarnate, and Keats flirts with the idea that he's Dionysius... As death and despair follow in Hart's wake, Sullivan knows he must do something to stop Hart before even Sullivan himself succumbs - but what...?”
At 156 pages The Fine Point Of His Soul is not a big book, but it is an excellent read.
Naval lieutenant Andrew Sullivan is ordered by his captain to find and regain important State papers which were stolen by the mysterious Adrian Hart. Sullivan finds himself in quarantine, however, with none other than the sickly poet John Keats, and artist Joseph Severn. When he discovers that they are all on a similar mission, once freed from their temporary enforced isolation, the men also enlist the services of Percy Bysshe Shelley, his wife Mary, Lord Byron and his servant, Fletcher. The result is not exactly a romp, but the action moves along at a good pace, the dialogue is suitable for the 'romantic' poets and the plot and settings authentic. Keats and Severn were, indeed, quarantined.
My copy had a few minor typographical errors, but nothing to distract from the pleasure of reading, and personally I wonder if rather than the anonymous 'Portrait of a Young Man' as a choice of cover, whether a portrait of Keats by Severn himself would have been more appropriate? That aside, this was an intriguing mystery and very well told to boot!
© Richard Tearle
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