Ruby in the Smoke (review)

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It’s Nancy Drew meets Sherlock Holmes! Doctor Who’s superspunky Billie Piper has to demure down her total kickassness to a proper Victorian ladylike level to play Sally Lockhart, girl detective, but Piper cannot hide how damn cool she is. Based on a novel by Phillip Pullman (whose The Golden Compass arrives in a big-screen adaptation this Christmas), this is the first adventure of the recently orphaned Sally as she takes on the strange case of her father’s unexpected death. The ruby of the title is cursed, the smoke is of the opium variety (which does not shock the surprisingly worldly wise Sally — not at all!), and enemies come in all guises, not the least of which is the mean old aunt (Julie Walters [Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban], having a ball) with whom Sally is now forced to live. Oh, there will be intrigue — what are the mysterious “Seven Blessings” the mere mention of which induces heart attacks in strong men? — and pearl-handled revolvers will be put to good use. Sally’s even got a Watson who’s sweet on her: Frederick (JJ Feild), who fools around with that newfangled photography. Fun, fun, and there are three more Lockhart novels still to come from the BBC and PBS’s Masterpice Theater.

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