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A Broken Vessel (Julian Kestrel Mysteries, #2)
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A Broken Vessel (Julian Kestrel Mysteries #2)

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,801 Ratings  ·  120 Reviews

London's notorious Haymarket district, Sally Stokes, a bold and bewitching Cockney prostitute, picks up three men one after the other and nicknames them Bristles, Blue Eyes, and Blinkers. From each of them Sally steals a handkerchief--and from one she mistakenly steals a letter that contai
Paperback, 289 pages
Published June 1st 1995 by Penguin Books (first published 1994)
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The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoThe Alienist by Caleb CarrThe Historian by Elizabeth KostovaThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónMistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
Best Historical Mystery
102nd out of 1,308 books — 3,371 voters
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Regency and Victorian Mysteries
43rd out of 348 books — 269 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jul 27, 2011 Lorena rated it it was ok
Meh. The mystery was OK, but I really didn't buy the relationship between our hero, Julian, and Sally, the prostitute sister of Julian's valet. It seemed kind of icky all around, given the power and class differential. And the part where the valet figured out they had slept together, and was HAPPY about it because it made him and his boss kind of like blood-brothers in some way? Eww. I'm also not a big fan of the Dr. MacGregor character. He's too much a caricature, and he doth protest too much ( ...more
Aug 02, 2013 Miriam rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery

Implausible but entertaining linked mysteries, heavy on unlikely coincidences and mistaken identities.

Also, dick jokes.
Mar 29, 2012 Wealhtheow rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Dorothy Sayers
Shelves: historical, victorian
Julian Kestral is such a dandy that his style is copied everywhere, but his true gift is in sleuthing. When his valet's sister stumbles upon a chilling letter, he takes the case. The mystery is twisty and dark, and solved through a combination of legwork, wit and courage. I love the dialog in these books, which is snappy but always feels natural. The relationships between characters are my favorite part. Dipper and his master, Kestral, live together in a wonderfully symbiotic way, and his sister ...more
Jamie Collins
Our Dandy detective Julian Kestrel discovers his manservant sneaking a prostitute into the house - only the prostitute is Dipper’s sister, who’s just been beaten up by a client and who has just stumbled across a Mystery. (Busy night.) Julian becomes unaccountably interested in both the girl and the Mystery, and detecting hijinks ensue.

This is a pleasant enough read, but it lacks the charm of the first book. Julian has less personality here and we are not given any further insight into his charac
Mar 16, 2009 earthy rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, historical
In some ways a lot stronger than her first Kestral novel (Cut to the Quick), in other ways weaker. Julian and co. have to deal with yet another anonymous dead woman, only this time they're aided by Dipper's sister Sally, who, while feisty and clever, ultimately embarks on a very unbelieveable romantic relationship with Julian. There's more action and actual sleuthing rather than parlor-room theoretical discussions, which makes this plot work a lot better than the somewhat exposition-heavy Cut to ...more
Lynn Spencer
Though not quite as strong as Cut to the Quick, I still really enjoyed this book. We learn a bit more about Julian Kestrel than we knew in the first book, and the continuing development of his character and others from the first book is one of the great pleasures of reading this.

In this novel, we see a different side of 1820s England than that featured in many novels. The heroine, Sally Stokes, is Dipper's sister and works as a prostitute in London. She likes to steal handkerchiefs as souvenirs
Aug 24, 2011 Stephanie rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 23, 2013 Craig rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Somewhat disappointing second book in the series. I'd hoped for more development of the two main characters in this one - individually and their relationship - but instead there's a mostly uninteresting side character who does much of the detecting. I still liked it, but I don't think it's even as good as the first, let alone better.
Idril Celebrindal
Aug 15, 2014 Idril Celebrindal rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 07, 2015 sharon rated it it was ok
A disappointing sequel to Cut to the Quick. Much of the plot and narrative are spent away from the delightful Kestrel; as a secondary character, he feels more like a caricature than anything else, and (view spoiler).

The subject matter here is also darker than the previous Kestrel mystery. Ross centers A Broken V
This book lacked the charm of CUT TO THE QUICK, and much of that had to do with these problems: 1) overly & needlessly complicated plot that suffered from a lack of elucidation; 2) certain characters were insufficiently fleshed out; and 3) the most problematic, the multiple point of view approach (necessary to this novel) that left Julian Kestrel as a secondary character in a novel in which he was supposed to be the protagonist. The game gal, Sally, Dipper's sister, is the real sleuth and th ...more
Text Addict
In this volume, Ross visits the seamy underside of London society - the world of prostitutes, thugs, and reformers. In the 1830s, it's never far away from the 'high society' that lives just down the road.

Much of the point-of-view is not Kestrel's but of Sally Stokes, his valet's sister. The three of them work to unravel the mystery of a letter that Sally, er, found. As usual, the truth is complicated, and arrived at partly by accident, with side issues and more than one tragedy unfolding.

May 10, 2016 Tammie rated it really liked it
Broken Vessel is the second book in the Julian Kestrel mystery series. I found it to be just as enjoyable as the first one even though I wasn't crazy about him sleeping with the prostitute. This one actually kept me guessing longer than the first one did. I thought I had it figured out and then I thought I didn't, only to find out I was right to begin with. It was very well done. I was able to get to know and like Julian and Dipper even more in this book. I would like to know more of the mystery ...more
Jun 08, 2013 Diane rated it it was ok

This one was a supreme disappointment. I found Julian's relationship with Dipper's sister totally unbelievable. This very particular gentleman that needs his bed sheets changed daily is going to slide between them with a street walking prostitute? I didn't buy it. The mystery wasn't even ultimately resolved through superior detecting, but from a complete babbling confession by the perpetrator while being held at gunpoint. Unfortunately, I have already ordered the other two i
Dec 23, 2015 Sara rated it really liked it
I read this book for the Disney Prince Hopefuls challenge. Darkwing Duck: Read a book with a hero who is a spy or a force for good, a hero who uses many different gadgets (weapons, computers, etc.), or a character who is skilled in martial arts.

I definitely consider Julian Kestrel to be a force for good, albeit in his distantly aristocratic way. This book was great, although I felt that the first was much stronger. The mystery was pretty easy to figure out, and I wasn't a huge fan of Sally's cha
Jul 20, 2014 Grey853 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, historical
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 28, 2014 Mo rated it liked it
I like when there is a bit of romance in my mystery novels. Unfortunately for me, I don’t care for romance between a venerated leader of the ton (who is elegant, handsome and charming) and an unabashed Cockney-speaking two-bit Haymarket prostitute (who is missing teeth). I don’t find these mental images to be agreeable.

Other than that, it was a well written story and I enjoyed the mystery part of it.
Not as entertaining as the first book. Mostly because the POV was split between Julian and Sally, and I couldn't stand Sally. Her relationship with Julian felt all kinds of forced. I kept hoping (rather uncharitably) that she'd be bumped off. And Julian spent a good part of his chapters talking with Dr. MacGregor, who's incredibly whiny and annoying. His gruff doctor shtick was tolerable while Julian was in the country, but it made no sense for him to show up in London just so Julian can bounce ...more
Mary Beth
In A Broken Vessel, Ross divides the amateur detective work between Kestrel and a new character, Cockney prostitute Sally Stokes, to mixed effect. The buoyant but vulnerable Stokes is compelling, but she’s mired in a frequently depressing, degrading mystery, and her presence tends to flatten Julian into a stalwart white knight, which isn’t his most interesting look.
Anna Bergmark
May 18, 2016 Anna Bergmark rated it liked it
The first book in the series was a crisp Agatha Christie-like murder mystery in an upper crust country house. The second one a less outdated, but more muddled installment focusing on crime and prostitution in the big city.

So, sure...there ARE differences. It IS grittier. (And more tasteless, perhaps in more ways than one.) But if you liked the first one, you won't be TOO disappointed. There's still humour and sweet romance, and though the harsh realities of the time are more frequently displayed
Jul 20, 2010 Jenine rated it it was ok
I dearly needed a novel and this filled the bill. But lordy, what an anachronistic bundle of romance among the Dickensian grime. The dialogue is handled well. But the characters in this strictly proscribed historical social setting seem to have very little awareness of class or morality.
Feb 09, 2014 Miriam rated it it was ok
very hard to buy into. a prostitute and the man-of-the-moment in English 19th century society? I don't think so. the best part of the book was the street language, which was fun to decipher -- and pretty accurate.
Oct 10, 2012 Melissa rated it liked it

Call me a prude but I really didn't care for him sleeping with a prostitute. However I will be reading the next book in the series
Nov 24, 2008 Nicole rated it really liked it
Shelves: 19thcentury, mystery
Though still a good book, my least favorite? Why? Umm, probably because I didn't like Sally. Why? Umm, probably because I was jealous.
Paulette Folmer
Apr 23, 2016 Paulette Folmer rated it really liked it
A delightful surprise, this book wasn't on my reading list, in fact, I'd never heard of it or of the author, but I saw it at the library and was taken by the title, the cover, and the summary on the inside flap. Told entirely in character in Victorian English, with all the differences in station and slang, the story grabs your attention and leads you on a wild chase until the final pages, when everything is wrapped up neatly. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys a good mystery (Julian makes m ...more
Rebecca Smucker
Apr 09, 2015 Rebecca Smucker rated it really liked it
Spunky Sally is a prostitute in London eking out a living in one of the few 'trades' available to single independent women of her time and social status. As we go through a typical day with her, she picks up some atypical clients...each of whom have mysterious motives. Turning back to the street that night, she runs into Digger, valet to debonair Julian Kestrel, a gentleman of the upper classes. Dipper happens to be her brother and sees that she's run into some trouble with one of her clients, s ...more
(3.5 stars) The second book in the Julian Kestrel series involves the sister of Julian's valet, Dipper. Sally has been estranged from her brother, and has been working as a prostitute. She meets her brother again after being with 3 clients one evening, one of whom beats her. Dipper takes her back to Julian's home to help her recover. Sally likes to take "souvenirs" from her clients to sell and earn extra money, particularly handkerchiefs. She finds a note among her takings, from a woman who is i ...more
Christy B
Mar 25, 2010 Christy B rated it really liked it
Another gem; I loved it almost as much as Cut to the Quick.

One night, a prostitute name Sally Stokes picks up three separate men. She swipes a handkerchief from each of their pockets in the hope of selling them later. After a bad run-in with John #3, whom she refers to as 'Blinkers', she runs into her brother, who just happens to be manservant to one Mr. Julian Kestrel.

Kestrel discovers a letter hidden in one of the handkerchiefs. Problem is, he's not sure which handkerchief it came from and, of
Sep 10, 2007 LJ rated it liked it
Ross, Kate – A Broken Vessel – G+
Julian Kestrel, the Regency dandy, teams with Sally Stokes, a cockney prostitute who helps him solve a clever and devilish murder. One night, as is her custom, Sally steals a handkerchief from each of her three clients. In one, she finds a letter from a woman being held against her will and begging for help. A concerned and frightened Sally runs into her brother, a reformed pickpocket and Kestrel's valet. Soon she and Kestrel are matching wits to find the owner o
Sep 04, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, historical
As much as I love these books, there is something inherently sad about reading them. I know that with each passing book--as I am falling more and more in love with this series--I am getting closer and closer to the end.

I am now halfway finished and am trying to decide: should I rush forward and buy the next book, or should I wait awhile and try to draw out concluding this series as long as possible?

This book itself is every bit as charming as its predecessor. I thought Sally was a delightful cha
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Kate Ross, born Katherine Jean Ross, was an American mystery author who wrote four books set in Regency-era England about dandy Julian Kestrel. The novels in the series are Cut to the Quick (1994), which won the 1994 Gargoyle award for Best Historical Mystery, A Broken Vessel (1995), Whom the Gods Love (1996), and The Devil in Music (1997), which won the 1997 Agatha Award for Best Novel. The Lulla ...more
More about Kate Ross...

Other Books in the Series

Julian Kestrel Mysteries (4 books)
  • Cut to the Quick (Julian Kestrel Mysteries, #1)
  • Whom the Gods Love (Julian Kestrel Mysteries, #3)
  • The Devil in Music (Julian Kestrel Mysteries, #4)

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