An historical thriller set in 1868.

The first disaster happens in Boston Harbor one fog enshrouded early morning when nine ships either crashed into each other or into the docks, all within a short time. No deaths fortunately, only a lot of damage.

The second occurred in the financial district a couple of days later. Glass in every window and door suddenly started melting, causing untold panic, one death, and a number of disfiguring injuries.

The city is in a panic and the police recruit a professor from Harvard College to lead the investigation.

William Barton Rogers, founder of the relatively new M.I.T., wants to help, but the Institute is mistrusted. Science and technology are frowned upon by most people. afraid it will put folks out of work. Of course the fact that it takes in charity scholars, those poor unable to afford an education(after all, that is for the rich scion) doesn’t help. And the Institute actually has a woman student in the freshman class. Gasp!

Only the Technologists, three members of the first graduating class, led by Marcus Mansfield(a fictional character), though other members were real names on M.I.T.’s roles, and the woman freshman(another real person, later to be a professor at the Institute)wanted to investigate. The leadership of the school was afraid they might be implicated and Rogers reluctantly went along with them, though he began his own look into it himself.

Pearl keeps things moving along smoothly, though the first half was a bit slower than the second, not enough to bother me though. Everything I read doesn’t have to be wide open from beginning to end to hold my interest. The author even throws a few twists in along the way to keep me guessing.

I enjoyed this one. I have a friend who’s mentioned a couple of times reading one of Pearl’s early books and not liking it. I think I know which one he means. I haven’t read his first two books, but reviews for this one mention a couple of times that, while liking this one, an earlier book was dreadfully bad(their words, not mine). I can’t speak on the truth of that obviously and won’t mention the title. The only thing I might surmise is that Pearl is an author learning his trade and he gets better each time out.

This one is worth a look though. As well as the novella that preceded it, THE PROFESSOR’S ASSASSIN, and is sort of a prologue. It goes on sale tomorrow and can be ordered here.