Dickinson's witty, highly literate seventh Lord Francis Powerscourt novel (after 2007's Death on the Nevskii Prospekt) provides a lively portrait of turn-of-the-last-century Ireland, where the English investigator and his wife, Lady Lucy, track down missing ancestral paintings of Anglo-Irish overlords, rescue kidnapped noblewomen from Irish nationalists and unmask murderers defiling the sacred Croagh Patrick pilgrimage. Large dollops of Ireland's long bloody struggle for independence counterpoint snatches of the country's famed song and poetry as Powerscourt thrashes out his inner dilemma against the labor pains of modern nationhood, torn between his aristocratic English heritage and the Ireland of his youth that he still loves deeply. Meanwhile, Ireland's religious and political leaders juggle fanaticism against practicality and Celtic voodoo against political expediency. Though Lady Lucy's role here is subordinated to Dickinson's evident relish in historical settings, architecture, art and poetry, this novel provides splendid entertainment and a wealth of insights into still-smoldering resentments and conflicts. (Apr.)Copyright 2007Reed Business Information
The seventh mystery in a series featuring an aristocratic detective in Victorian England.
Kirkus ReviewsThe probe of an odd art theft leads an amateur British sleuth to murder most dastardly. The retired Lord Francis Powerscourt is looking forward to checking out an advance copy of his new book, The Cathedrals of England, Volume One, when an urgent summons from Lord Brandon, the Earl of Lincoln, beguiles him into his seventh adventure (Death on the Nevskii Prospekt, 2006, etc.). He's deflated to find that the mystery doesn't involve murder or blackmail but some missing paintings from Brandon's family home. Still, oddities surrounding the affair intrigue him. A row of family portraits are missing along with a seemingly random handful of more valuable works. After an initial visit to the crime scene in rural Ireland, Powerscourt invites his wife Lucy and his friend and collaborator Johnny Fitzgerald to join him both as fertile minds to test his theories on and companions for his extracurricular wanderings. Much excitement and activity attend the construction of a new chapel at the summit of Croagh Patrick. The mystery of the missing paintings deepens when some of them reappear with editorial additions. Brandon thinks it an elaborate practical joke, but Powerscourt suspects that there are clues in the paintings. Strange and violent acts, culminating in a chapel murder, confirm these suspicions. A leisurely period whodunit with Dickinson's customary historical tidbits and patches of local color, swathed in an appealing Victorian narrative.
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