The American Boy.

By Andrew Taylor

Printed: 2003

Publisher: Flamingo. London

Edition: First edition

Dimensions 17 × 24 × 4 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 17 x 24 x 4

Condition: Very good  (See explanation of ratings)

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Item information


In the original dustsheet. Black cloth binding with red gilt title on the spine.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

Murder, lies and betrayal in Regency England

England 1819. Thomas Shield, a master at a school just outside London, is tutor to a young American boy and the child’s sensitive best friend, Charles Frant. Helplessly drawn to Frant’s beautiful, unhappy mother, Shield becomes entwined in their family’s affairs. When a brutal murder takes place in London’s seedy backstreets, all clues lead to the Frant family, and Shield is tangled in a web of lies, money, sex and death that threatens to tear his new life apart. Soon, it emerges that at the heart of these macabre events lies the strange American boy. What secrets is the young Edgar Allan Poe hiding?

Review: Set in London in 1819, Andrew Taylor’s ‘The American Boy’ focuses on Thomas Shield, a young man recovering from a mental breakdown caused by his experiences at the Battle of Waterloo, who begins working as an under-user at a private boys’ school in Stoke Newington. At the school, he teaches young Charles Frant and his American friend, Edgar Allan (later to become the writer Edgar Allan Poe) and he subsequently becomes a private tutor to the two boys during their holidays from school. Whilst at the Frant house, Thomas falls in love with Charles’s mother, the exquisitely beautiful but unhappy Sophia Frant, and he also becomes attracted to Sophia’s cousin, the flirtatious Flora Carswall – who is not slow at showing Thomas that the attraction is mutual. Torn between his deeply romantic love for the unhappily married Sophia and his more earthy feelings for Flora, Thomas – who, in his more sensible moments, acknowledges that both women are of a social class out of his reach – tries to make himself useful to Charles’s ambitious father, Henry Frant, and to Flora’s father, the rich and unscrupulous Stephen Carswall and, in so doing, he becomes caught up in a web of intrigue, deception, mutilation and murder. An atmospheric story that is part love story and part murder mystery story and one that contains some very good descriptions of time and place. Told in the first person by Thomas Shield, this first-person narration draws the reader immediately into his story (which has the feeling of a Charles Dickens’ novel crossed with a Wilkie Collins’ novel – although not quite in the same class as these authors) and I found myself rapidly turning the pages and was entertained from beginning to end. It may be true that (in common with many books of this genre) the reader will need to suspend their disbelief at times, and I should also mention that Edgar Allan Poe played a much smaller part in the story than was suggested by the blurb on the cover, but on the whole I found this an enjoyable and engrossing read and would be interested in looking at other titles by this author.


Andrew Taylor (born 14 October 1951) is a British author best known for his crime and historical novels, which include the Lydmouth series, the Roth Trilogy and historical novels such as the number-one best-selling The American Boy and The Ashes of London. His accolades include the Diamond Dagger, Britain’s top crime-writing award.

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