Karen Engelmann has an imaginative tale of intrigue and seduction set in late eighteenth century Sweden, "The Stockholm Octavo." (Ecco Press/HarperCollins, 416 oases)
Young Emil Larsson is trying to make his way in the world in Stockholm. His position as a minor bureaucrat or Sekretaire is threatened by his single state for his superior insists that only married are reliable government employees.
A skilled card player with ambitions of marrying well, Larsson is drawn to the gambling parlor of Mrs. Sofia Sparrow where he consents to have the psychic Mrs. Sparrow read his fortune via the Octavo, a grouping of eight cards representing eight persons who will intersect and become integral in his life.
The Sekretaire is soon drawn into a deadly web of political intrigue as the malevolent Madame Uzanne plots to kill King Gustav and put her lover, Duke Karl, on the throne.
In this story of the ambitious Swedish bureaucrat, Emil Larsson, Engelmann brings her reader to the late eighteenth century when revolutionary fervor toppled the French monarchy and threatened to spread throughout Europe.
In this volatile age, a calculating woman, skilled in the art of seduction, could destroy a king with the mere flick of her wrist and movement of her fan.