Ashworth Hall (Thomas and Charlotte Pitt Series #17) [NOOK Book]

Overview

When a group of powerful Irish Protestants and Catholics gather at a country house to discuss Irish home rule, contention is to be expected. But when the meeting?s moderator, government bigwig Ainsley Greville, is found murdered in his bath, negotiations seem doomed. Unless Superintendent Thomas Pitt and his wife, Charlotte, can root out the truth, simmering hatreds and passions may again explode in murder.

Thomas and Charlotte Pitt return in the latest brilliantly ...

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Ashworth Hall (Thomas and Charlotte Pitt Series #17)

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Overview

When a group of powerful Irish Protestants and Catholics gather at a country house to discuss Irish home rule, contention is to be expected. But when the meeting’s moderator, government bigwig Ainsley Greville, is found murdered in his bath, negotiations seem doomed. Unless Superintendent Thomas Pitt and his wife, Charlotte, can root out the truth, simmering hatreds and passions may again explode in murder.

Thomas and Charlotte Pitt return in the latest brilliantly rendered novel of manners, mores, and murder in Victorian England. A group of Irish political figures, Protestants and Catholics, gathers at Ashworth Hall in hopes of finally resolving the volatile issue of home rule for Ireland. When a mysterious murder shatters the decorum of the weekend, Scotland Yard's Superintendent Thomas Pitt and his clever wife Charlotte arrive to root out the truth. 368 pp. 12-city author tour. National publicity. TV ads. 50,000 print.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Having mastered all the elements of top-notch historical fiction and mystery plotting, Perry adds high political drama to her Victorian-era Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series. When prominent Irish Catholics and Protestants meet at Ashworth Hall to discuss legal reform, police superintendent Thomas Pitt (with his assistant, Tellman, reluctantly posing as valet) is charged with the task of discreetly guarding the meeting's chairman, Ainsley Greville of the Home Office. The assignment is natural, since Ashworth belongs to Emily Radley, Pitt's sister-in-law. Religious and national hatreds promptly crack any veneer of civility. But angry words over tea are merely prologue: Greville, considered indispensable to a peaceful resolution of Ireland's troubles, is murdered in his bath. While Pitt and Tellman ascertain that the murderer is neither an intruder nor a servant, Jack Radley, Emily's husband, assumes Greville's role and the meetings continue. Although Pitt learns that the philandering Greville was as likely to be murdered for personal reasons as political ones, Emily remains terrified for Jack's safety, and rightfully so: her guests' appetite for blood is far from satisfied. As absorbing and elegantly constructed as last year's Pentecost Alley, this mystery speaks directly to what is still a current political issueDand offers some very harsh words about the romanticization of historical grievances. By commenting on the seductive dangers of allowing anger to become habit, emotion to circumvent reason and legend to supplant history, Perry addresses much more than any one political problem, past or present. Author tour. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
There's trouble afoot as negotiators open a crucial 1890 conference on the fate of Ireland. Magnetic Protestant Nationalist Charles Stewart Parnell is snarled in the divorce that will bring him down and leave the country leaderless. Closer to London, the conference chair, Ainsley Greville, has already survived one assassination attempt, but a Battersea constable who infiltrated the local Fenians has been less fortunate. Since his wife's sister will be hostess of the gathering at Ashworth Hall, Bow Street Supt. Thomas Pitt reluctantly agrees to attend, keenly aware of the parvenu status that makes even the subordinate masquerading as his valet look down on him. The stage is set for violence—but hardly for the romance Kezia Moynihan discovers when she surprises her brother, extremist Protestant negotiator Fergal Moynihan, in flagrante with nationalist poet Iona O'Leary, wife of equally rabid Catholic negotiator Lorcan McGinley. Murder follows apace, and although Perry (Weighed in the Balance, 1996, etc.) seems more assiduous in pursuing the finer points of backstairs blarney (the Pitts' maid Gracie is smitten by McGinley's valet) than in unraveling the mystery, the air of pumped-up intrigue is skillfully maintained till the abrupt final curtain.

The Troubles perfectly suit Perry's gift for rooting large- scale social conflict in the minutiae of domestic intrigue. Fans of the series will be delighted.

From the Publisher
“Intelligently written and historically fascinating.”—The Wall Street Journal

“A political thriller and a rousing whodunnit . . . [Anne] Perry interweaves history and fiction so deftly that this narration assumes a seemingly monumental importance.”—Chicago Sun-Times
 
“Though one of the pleasures of Anne Perry’s mysteries is her atmospheric and vivid rendering of Victorian England, the plot of her satisfying new novel, Ashworth Hall, is as contemporary as today’s headlines.”—San Francisco Chronicle
 
“The Troubles perfectly suit Perry’s gift for rooting large-scale social conflict in the minutiae of domestic intrigue.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
“[A] rewarding series.”—The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307767677
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/29/2010
  • Series: Thomas and Charlotte Pitt Series , #17
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 86,960
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Anne Perry
Anne Perry has written a number of novels set in Victorian England, including a long series featuring Thomas and Charlotte Pitt and another featuring the formidable William Monk. "Her grasp of Victorian character and conscience still astonishes," said the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Hundreds of thousands of readers agree.


From the Hardcover edition.

Biography

Born in London in October 1938, Anne Perry was plagued with health problems as a young child. So severe were her illnesses that at age eight she was sent to the Bahamas to live with family friends in the hopes that the warmer climate would improve her health. She returned to her family as a young teenager, but sickness and frequent moves had interrupted her formal education to the extent that she was finally forced to leave school altogether. With the encouragement of her supportive parents, she was able to "fill in the gaps" with voracious reading, and her lack of formal schooling has never held her back.

Although Perry held down many jobs—working at various times as a retail clerk, stewardess, limousine dispatcher, and insurance underwriter—the only thing she ever seriously wanted to do in life was to write. (In her '20s, she started putting together the first draft of Tathea, a fantasy that would not see print until 1999.) At the suggestion of her stepfather, she began writing mysteries set in Victorian London; and in 1979, one of her manuscripts was accepted for publication. The book was The Cater Street Hangman, an ingenious crime novel that introduced a clever, extremely untidy police inspector named Thomas Pitt. In this way an intriguing mystery series was born…along with a successful writing career.

In addition to the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt novels, Perry crafts darker, more layered Victorian mysteries around the character of London police detective William Monk, whose memory has been impaired by a coach accident. (Monk debuted in 1990's The Face of a Stranger.) She also writes historical novels set during the First World War (No Graves as Yet, Shoulder the Sky, etc.) and holiday-themed mysteries (A Christmas Journey, A Christmas Secret, etc), and her short stories have been included in several anthologies.

Good To Know

Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Anne Perry:

The first time I made any money telling a story I was four and a half years old—golden hair, blue eyes, a pink smocked dress, and neat little socks and shoes. I walked home from school (it was safe then) with my lunchtime sixpence unspent. A large boy, perhaps 12 or 13, stopped me. He was carrying a stick and threatened to hit me if I didn't give him my sixpence. I told him a long, sad story about how poor we were—no food at home, not even enough money for shoes! He gave me his half crown—five times sixpence! It's appalling! I didn't think of it as lying, just escaping with my sixpence. How on earth he could have believed me I have no idea. Perhaps that is the knack of a good story—let your imagination go wild, pile on the emotions—believe it yourself, evidence to the contrary be damned. I am not really proud of that particular example!

I used to live next door to people who had a tame dove. They had rescued it when it broke its wing. The wing healed, but it never learned to fly again. I used to walk a mile or so around the village with the dove. Its little legs were only an inch or two long, so it got tired, then it would ride on my head. Naturally I talked to it. It was a very nice bird. I got some funny looks. Strangers even asked me if I knew there was a bird on my head! Who the heck did they think I was talking to? Of course I knew there was a bird on my head. I'm not stupid—just a writer, and entitled to be a little different. I'm also English, so that gives me a second excuse!

On the other hand I'm not totally scatty. I like maths, and I used to love quadratic equations. One of the most exciting things that happened to me was when someone explained non-Euclidean geometry to me, and I suddenly saw the infinite possibilities in lateral thinking! How could I have been so blind before?

Here are some things I like—and one thing I don't:

  • I love wild places, beech trees, bluebell woods, light on water—whether the light is sunlight, moonlight, or lamplight; and whether the water is ocean, rain, snow, river, mist, or even a puddle.

  • I love the setting sun in autumn over the cornstooks.

  • I love to eat raspberries, pink grapefruit, crusty bread dipped in olive oil.

  • I love gardens where you seem to walk from "room to room," with rambling roses and vines climbing into the trees and sudden vistas when you turn corners.

  • I love white swans and the wild geese flying overhead.

  • I dislike rigidity, prejudice, ill-temper, and perhaps above all, self-righteousness.

  • I love laughter, mercy, courage, hope. I think that probably makes me pretty much like most people. But that isn't bad.
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      1. Also Known As:
        Juliet Hulme
      2. Hometown:
        Portmahomack, Ross-shire, U.K
      1. Date of Birth:
        October 28, 1938
      2. Place of Birth:
        Blackheath, London England

    Read an Excerpt

    Pitt stared down at the body of the man lying on the stones of the alley. It was a gray October dusk. A few yards away on Oxford Street the carriages and hansoms were whirling by, wheels hissing on the wet road, horses' hooves clattering. The lamps were already lit, pale moons in the gathering darkness.

    The constable shone his lantern on the dead face.

    "'E's one of ours, sir," he said with tight anger straining his voice. "Least 'e used ter be. I know'd 'im. That's why I sent for you personal, Mr. Pitt. 'E went orff ter summink special. Dunno wot. But 'e were a good man, Denbigh were. I'd swear ter that."

    Pitt bent down to look more closely. The dead man -- his name was Denbigh, according to the constable -- looked to be about thirty and was fair skinned, dark haired. Death had not marred his features. He looked only slightly surprised.

    Pitt took the lantern and shone it slowly over the rest of him. He was dressed in very ordinary cheap fabric trousers, plain cotton collarless shirt and poorly cut jacket. He could have been a laborer or factory worker, or even a young man come in from the country looking for employment. He was a little thin, but his hands were clean, his nails well cut.

    Pitt wondered if he had a wife and children, parents, someone who was going to grieve for him with the deep, hurting pain of love, more than the respect this constable beside him felt.

    "What station was he from?" he asked.

    "Battersea, sir. That's w'ere I knew 'im. 'E weren't never in Bow Street, which is w'y you don't know 'im, sir. But this isn't no ordinary murder. 'E's bin shot, an' street robbers don' carry guns. They uses knives or a garrote."

    "Yes, I know that." Pitt looked through the dead man's pockets gently, his fingers searching. He found only a handkerchief, clean and mended carefully on one corner, and two shillings and ninepence ha'penny in change. There were no letters or papers to identify the body.

    "You're sure this is Denbigh?"

    "Yes sir, I'm sure. I know 'im quite well. Only for a short time, but I remember that mark wot 'e got on one ear. Unusual, that is. I remember people's ears. Yer can make a lot of things look different, if yer wants ter pass unnoticed, but almost everone forgets their ears stays the same. Only thing yer can do is get 'air wot ides 'em. I wish as I could say as it wasn't, but that's Denbigh, poor soul."

    Pitt straightened up. "Then you were right to call me, Constable. The murder of a policeman, even on off duty, is a very serious thing. We'll start as soon as the surgeon comes and takes the body. I doubt you'll find any witnesses, but try everyone. Try again tomorrow at the same time. People may pass regularly on their way home. Try the street traders, cab drivers, try the nearest public houses, and of course all the buildoings around with a window into the alley, any part of it."

    "Yes sir!"

    "And you've no idea who Denbigh was working for now?"

    "No sir, but I reckon it were still some department o' the police, or the gov'ment."

    "Then I think I had better find out." Pitt rammed his hands into his pockets. He was cold standing still. The chill of the place, islanded in death as it was, only yards from the rattle and bustle of traffic, seeped into his bones.

    The mortuary wagon pulled up at the end of the alley and turned awkwardly to come down, the horses whinnying and swinging shy at the smell of blood and fear in the air.

    "And you'd better search the alley for anything that might be of meaning," Pitt added. "I don't suppose the gun is here, but it's possible. Did the bullet go right through him?"

    "Yes sir, looks like it."

    "Then look and see if you can find it. Then at least we'd know if he was shot here or brought here after he was dead."

    "Yes sir. Immediately, sir." The constable's voice was still harsh with anger and hurt. It was all too close, too very real.


    "Denbigh," Assistant Commissioner Cornwallis looked very unhappy. His strong features made him appear particularly bleak with his overlong nose and wide mouth. "Yes, he was still on the force. I can't tell you precisely what he was doing, because I don't know, but he was involved with the Irish Problem. As you know, there are a great many organizations fighting for Irish independence. The Fenians are only one of them, perhaps the most infamous. Many are violent. Denbigh was an Irishman. He'd worked his way into one of the most secret of these brotherhoods, but he was killed before he could tell us what he'd learned, at least more than the sort of thing we already know or take for granted."

    Pitt said nothing.

    Cornwallis's mouth tightened. "This is more than an ordinary murder, Pitt. Work on this one yourself, and use your best men. I would dearly like to find whoever did this. He was a good man, and a brave one."

    From the Hardcover edition.

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    Table of Contents

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    Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
    • Anonymous

      Posted January 7, 2012

      Another good Pitt novel

      The Pitt series are light fun holiday/vacation reading. This novel takes place in a different setting where Ms Perry does an excellent job of involving us with a wide range of characters. As with other novels in the series the mystery solution comes very suddenly and in a somewhat unsatisfactory manner at the end.

      0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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