The Ruby in the Smoke Summary
Mystery, intrigue and danger surround Sally Lockhart, a sixteen-year-old girl who is determined to find out the truth about the death of her father, Matthew Lockhart, one of two partners in a shipping company. After receiving a strange letter, she visits her father's former offices, mentions the phrase "seven blessings" to the company's clerk, and sees the man drop over dead. Thus begins an adventure that takes Sally and her friends through the underworld of London in the 1870s, where she finds that the mystery of her father's death is linked to Chinese pirates and the opium trade and to the missing magnificent Ruby of Agrapur.
In The Ruby in the Smoke, Pullman has created a melodramatic work of historical fiction that surrounds the reader with sights and sounds of Victorian London. Sally's quest to find the meaning of the mysterious message leads to close escapes, meetings on foggy bridges, and chases through alleys and dark passageways. In the course of her adventures, Sally makes friends who assist her in her quest. What she does not realize is that she has two enemies. One, the evil Mrs. Holland, wants to find the missing ruby. The second, the mysterious Hendrick Van Eeden or Ah Ling, wants to silence anyone who might know about his illegal opium trade.