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The Ruby in the Smoke  
Ruby in the Smoke.jpg
A recent edition of Ruby in the Smoke with Billie Piper on the cover
Author Philip Pullman
Illustrator Fred Booth
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Sally Lockhart series
Genre(s) Mystery, Young adult novel
Publisher Oxford University Press
Publication date 1985
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 200 pp
ISBN 0192715437
OCLC Number 59171883
Followed by The Shadow in the North

The Ruby in the Smoke (1985) is a novel by the English author Philip Pullman. It was also adapted for television in 2006.


Plot summary

This is the first of four mystery novels set in 19th-century England involving 16-year-old heroine Sally Lockhart. It introduces us to the main characters and several continuing story lines. Sally's father has died, so she moves in with a distant aunt, Mrs. Rees. She receives a letter warning her to beware of "The Seven Blessings." After Sally begins to investigate the letter, she learns that she is in danger. She then receives a second letter of warning, and a book about her father's experiences in India. A Mrs Holland attempts to steal the book from Sally and threatens anyone who comes to her aid. Sally is befriended by a young photographer, Frederick Garland, and his sister, Rosaria. It is they who provide Sally with friendship, a home, and employment while she investigates the book and Mrs Holland. Several people are murdered, and the lives of Sally and her friends appear in danger. She learns about Britain's role in the opium trade, and the identity of her father. There are side plots about a young girl, Adelaide, who is held captive by Mrs Holland. At the end of this book, Adelaide's whereabouts are unknown, but it is assumed that she is alive. Another story line is the solvency of Garland's photography business, and whether Sally and friends will continue to have a home.

This book is the first of the Sally Lockhart Quartet:

  1. The Ruby in the Smoke
  2. The Shadow in the North
  3. The Tiger in the Well
  4. The Tin Princess

TV adaptation

A TV Film adaptation written by Adrian Hodges and starring Billie Piper was produced by the BBC. It aired on BBC One on 27 December 2006 [1] and on PBS's Masterpiece Theatre as the The Sally Lockhart Mysteries: The Ruby in the Smoke on 4 February 2007[2].

All four Sally Lockhart books were expected to be adapted for television; however, as of April 2009 no information has arisen regarding an adaptation of The Tiger in the Well.


Actor Role
Billie Piper Sally Lockhart
Julie Walters Mrs Holland
JJ Feild Frederick Garland
Matt Smith Jim Taylor
Hayley Atwell Rosa Garland
Chloe Walker Adelaide
David Harewood Matthew and Nicholas Bedwell
Robert Glenister Samuel Selby
Elliot Cowan Henrick Van Eeden
Miles Anderson Major Marchbanks
Michael Seddon Urchin


  1. ^ BBC - Press Office - BBC ONE Transmission Details Weeks 52/1
  2. ^ Masterpiece | PBS

External links

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