"A fascinating period setting—the complicated charms and dangers of England (especially the social snake pit of Bath) and France in 1787; the return of two handsome and intelligent lead characters—Anne Cartier, a teacher of deaf children, and Col. Paul de Saint-Martin, a French soldier and unofficial government agent—from last year's "Mute Witness"; and above all, the thoughtful and energetic writing of retired history professor Charles O'Brien. Who could ask for anything more?
"Well, there's also a convincing, dastardly Irish villain, using the tensions between England and France to escape justice for the brutal rape of a young Frenchwoman; a Jamaican slave being taught to box and about to become one of England's sporting heroes; enough adultery and illegitimacy to make readers think fondly of "Tom Jones" author Henry Fielding; and a crusty old Bow Street runner named Dick Burton who could well have worked for Henry's brother, Sir John Fielding, the blind magistrate who has become a star in Bruce Alexander's excellent series set in the same period. In all, a most impressive package."
Chicago Tribune, review by Dick Adler
"Charles O'Brien has woven together an intrigue which is so deep in its structure and intertwined with the events of the times that it is difficult to find a parallel... History is everywhere, it is evident without being intrusive. The rich detail ... is cunningly worked into the mystery... O'Brien belongs to the reflective, thoughtful type of writers... His remarkable novel flows as perfectly as ever does the Seine through Paris or the Thames through London... From a purely technical point of view he is incredibly skilful and worth studying... This mystery is truly top notch."
Dast Magazine, review by Bertil Falk
"The pace is relentless; the characters are richly and fully drawn. This is a complex, richly detailed, well-written historical novel that takes a fresh look at a fascinating time in world history. Black Gold is an excellent and entertaining novel."
Minnesota Crime Wave, review by Carl Brookins
"The cast of Mute Witness (2001), who made such an auspicious debut in O'Brien's first novel, returns in a story equally as strong.... O'Brien provides a whole package for mystery lovers: a brave heroine and hero; several mysteries to solve; a socially conscious subplot (involving an African whom Sir Harry is training to be a boxer); and an evocation of a place and time that adds depth and precision to the rest of the tale. This is a historical mystery to get lost in, satisfying at every level."
Booklist, American Library Association, review by Ilene Cooper
"... the mystery evolves, becoming more and more complex as the novel progresses. Bath in the late 18th century is well researched and there are some interesting social issues that are not often addressed in novels of this time period.... An entertaining and engrossing novel."
DorothyL, review by Alicia Ahlvers
"... a first rate mystery in a rich historical setting."
Eileen Spring, author of Law, Land & Family: Aristocratic Inheritance in England, 1300 to 1800
"... a rich historical mystery.... Fans of Iain Pears ... historical mysteries will want to read BLACK GOLD, a work rich in period detail with characters that are unique to the era. Charles O'Brien is a gifted storyteller who writes about the aristocracy of the late eighteenth century from a commoner's point of view. The novel takes the moral high ground, which helps explain why the protagonists are so appealing."
Amazon.com, review by Harriet Klausner
"... this sequel offers fully realized characters, a complex plot and a surprise ending sure to satisfy. O'Brien has a knack for portraying strong male characters, such as Paul, Sir Harry and Burton, the Bow Street Runner investigating charges against Roach.... The narrative flows smoothly, and O'Brien has neatly caught the tenor of the time, when being fashionable was of more importance than acting morally."