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Literature / Point of Honour

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Point of Honour by Madeleine Robins is a detective novel which transplants the tropes of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler into an Alternate History version of Regency England, in which George III went insane somewhat earlier in life than he did in reality and as a result his wife rather than his eldest son became his regent. Sarah Tolerance is a disgraced noblewoman who ran away with her brother's fencing instructor. She now works as a private investigator, while living in a cottage behind her aunt's expensive brothel. She's hired by a nobleman to look for a fan; naturally, complications (and mayhem, and death) ensue. There are two sequels, Petty Treason and The Sleeping Partner.


Tropes of Honour:

  • Always Murder: Miss Tolerance is hired to look for a fan. It doesn't take too long before people start dying around her, though...
  • I Have This Friend: Subverted. Lord Trux hires her to find the fan on behalf of his friend; she naturally assumes that he's being evasive. It turns out that he does have this friend.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Lord Versellion is actually illegitimate—his real mother is Miss Virtue.
  • Kick the Dog: Lord Versellion's eventual downfall is foreshadowed when we learn that he was responsible for spreading ruinous gossip about Lord Trux.
  • MacGuffin: The fan Miss Tolerance is hired to look for. In fact, it's the result of a misunderstanding—while there is an actual fan out there, it turns out that "the Italian Fan" was Miss Virtue's nickname in her youth.
  • Meaningful Rename: Several fallen noblewomen take these, usually ironically. (Miss Virtue—who is the madam of a low-class brothel—is probably the most blatant example.)
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  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Miss Tolerance and Lord Versellion.
  • Stock Shout-Outs: The novel begins "It is a truth universally acknowledged..."
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Miss Tolerance spends much of the novel disguised as a boy. It helps her get around without attracting attention.