Books: Rummage in the Attic

SON OF A HUNDRED KINGS (465 pp.)—Thomas B. Costain—Doubleday ($3).

Cloak & dagger romance and bustles-and-bows nostalgia both have their merits—and faithful droves of customers. It is a lucky author who can straddle the two fields without coming a cropper. In Author Thomas Bertram Costain's case, a firm hand with historical fiction (The Black Rose, The Moneyman) has been no guarantee of success with the gentler, slower-moving Gay Nineties period piece.

Son of a Hundred Kings (for the background of which 65-year-old Author Costain rummaged through the attic of his own Canadian youth) jogs...

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