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Literature / Sally Lockhart

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Sally Lockhart

A series of books by Philip Pullman about Sally Lockhart, a young woman living in Victorian London, who solves various mysteries with the help of her friends.

The four books in the series are:

  • The Ruby in the Smoke
  • The Shadow in the North
  • The Tiger in the Well
  • The Tin Princess

Main Characters:

  • Sally Lockhart: Main character, a young woman who develops a passion for solving mysteries after her father's death. "Uncommonly pretty" and works as a financial consultant.
  • Jim Taylor: Sally's friend, a lovable young Londoner who is courageous and outgoing. An office boy, he helps Sally solve her mysteries.
  • Frederick Garland: Love interest for Sally, a photographer with an imaginative streak.
  • Ah Ling: Villain in several of the books.
  • Adelaide: Orphan who becomes a main character through the series.

The first two novels were adapted for television by BBC, notably starring Doctor Who's Billie Piper and Matt Smith as Sally and Jim Taylor.



  • 11th-Hour Ranger: Jim essentially fills this role in Tiger in the Well, as he turns up towards the end of the book in time to save Sally's house and reputation; Sally explicitly muses at one point earlier in the novel that none of this would have happened if Jim and Webster Garland had been there to vouch for her against Arthur Parrish's claims.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Jim and Frederick pull one in The Shadow in the North to get back files stolen from Sally's office. It's not their first time.
    Jim: We've done it before... It's funny, ain't it, Fred? Amazing what you can get away with. You could walk in anywhere with a bit of paper in your hand—you could get away with murder, almost.
  • Dead Man Writing: Ruby in the Smoke ends with Sally finding a final letter her father wrote her before his death, in which he apologises for not telling her about her biological father but affirms that, in his mind, the best thing Major Lockhart ever did was choose her over a fortune when he traded a valuable ruby for her.
  • Death by Sex: It's... unfortunate that Frederick dies not long after he and Sally first have sex.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Sally's father, who is continually regarded as a hero by Sally even after she learns that he wasn't her biological father.
  • Demoted to Extra: Technically Jim and Sally fall victim to this in Tiger in the Well and Tin Princess respectively, as Jim is absent on a trip until the end of Tiger and Sally is kept occupied by other business for all but brief scenes at the beginning and the end of Tin Princess.
  • Everyone Can See It: Jim reflects that Sally and Fred are made for one another, so why do they have to fight all the time?
  • Evil Cripple: The Tzaddik in Tiger in the Well, AKA Ah Ling/Henrick Van Eeden, who was paralysed by a bullet through his spine
  • Love at First Sight: Jim falls in love like this twice. Frederick tells Sally that he's loved her since their first meeting.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Arthur Parrish is essentially this, as most of his criminal acts are based around money rather than his own prejudices, and he is only acting as Sally's husband because he has been ordered to do so by his 'employer', the Tzaddik, instead of having any vendetta against Sally herself. Doesn't justify any of his actions, especially when he shoots Goldberg when the latter comes to help Sally.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Frederick gives a brutal one to Sally in The Shadow in the North.
    Frederick: There's you and there's the rest of us, and we're all inferior... Have you any idea of how unlikable you are, Sally? At your best you're magnificent, and I loved you for it. At your worst you're nothing but a smooth, self-righteous, patronizing bitch.
  • Rags to Royalty: Adelaide goes from a penniless orphan servant girl to the Queen of a small country.
  • Ruritanian Romance: The Tin Princess is a Ruritanian romance set in the fictitious kingdom of Razkavia.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: It turns out that Major Lockhart basically adopted Sally because of this, giving her biological father Major Marchbanks an expensive ruby to pay off his gambling debts in exchange for Sally because he feared that Marchbanks was in no state to be a father to her.
  • Shoot the Dog: Unfortunately, a literal example; Sally's dog Chaka is killed in The Shadow in the North. It's a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Skewed Priorities: In Tiger in the Well, when Sally is being sued for divorce as an unfit mother by Arthur Parrish, her lawyer and solicitor are more concerned with defending Sally of the charges raised by Parrish than whether or not Sally is actually married to him in the first place.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Axel Bellmann turns out to be one, and his explanation bears many similarities to the arguments used to support a nuclear deterrent. Sally's total conviction that he's wrong is more because she's essentially an idealist who believes that a peaceful world isn't worth having if it's based on fear, rather than because she faults his logic. Of course, this is also a case of Dramatic Irony; even though the book is set before things like a nuclear deterrent were even conceived of, it was written some time after it became painfully apparent that weapons of mass destruction do not bring about world peace.