From the Publisher
“Engaging and sharply observed.”—New York Times Book Review
“A richly textured and timeless novel of suspense. Anne Perry’s Victorian England pulsates with life and is peopled with wonderfully memorable characters.”—Faye Kellerman
“Marvelous . . . a totally absorbing novel that completely hooks the reader. The storyline is a heartbreaker, and only the most hardened reader will have a dry eye at the end of this tale.”—Rave Reviews
“In this wonderful novel, master storyteller Anne Perry moves closer to Dickens as she lifts the lace curtain from Victorian society to reveal its shocking secrets.”—Sharyn McCrumb
“Rich period detailing, masterful characterizations, subtle romantic subplots, disturbing flashbacks, and powerful courtroom drama.”—Library Journal
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Perry's third mystery set in Victorian London, military hero Thaddeus Carlyon falls from the top of a staircase and is impaled on a suit of armor below--an ignoble end to a distinguished career and a definite damper to the dinner party he had been attending. When his death turns out to be a murder, his wife takes sole responsibility and is quickly arrested. But Carlyon's sister believes the widow innocent and enlists the help of her friend Hester Latterly, a nurse, who soon brings in her associates from The Face of a Stranger and A Dangerous Mourning : barrister Oliver Rathbone and troubled former policeman, amnesia victim and dogged investigator Thomas Monk. The quietly feminist Latterly, the gentlemanly Rathbone and the seemingly cold Monk (who discovers hidden aspects of himself as readily as he does clues) advance the narrative in tandem. Unobtrusively creating a richly detailed period atmosphere, Perry leads readers gradually through a case involving Carlyon's traumatized son and vengeful daughter, revealing social and moral nuances in the grand tradition of the Victorian novel--even though the finale relies on a plot device badly overused in current crime fiction. ( Oct. )
Veteran author Perry offers another wonderful retreat to a rematerialized London of strict but hypocritical mores viewed through the eyes of sensitive and intelligent protagonists. A proud nurse and a brilliant lawyer team up with former policeman William Monk to defend a sympathetic upper-class woman who confesses to murdering her much-respected husband in a fit of jealousy. Rich period detailing, masterful characterization, subtle romantic subplots, disturbing flashbacks, and powerful courtroom drama recommend this to all fiction collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/92.
School Library Journal
YA-- Professional lawyer, private investigator, and amateur sleuth unite to investigate not ``whodunit'' but why. Mrs. Carlyon has confessed to murdering her husband, the General Schwartzkopf of London society in 1857; her friends realize that the motive must have been significant for such a mild-mannered lady to have committed the deed. Halfway through the book, they learn her reason, but then must find admissible evidence to prove it in court. There are many characters in the story, differentiated by personality traits within a family or by rigid class structure. The latter is especially evident in the speech patterns. Because there is so much dialogue, the pacing is rapid. Readers discover much about the condition of women in Victorian England, i.e., as the husband's pawn with no rights or property of her own. Inspector Monk was introduced in an earlier novel; a secondary mystery relating to his amnesia is disappointing as it builds and then fizzles out. YAs will identify more with Hester, the sleuth. Enlightening historical fiction/mystery. --Claudia Moore, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
Victorian London society is shocked by the bizarre killing of General Thaddeus Carlyon during a dinner party at the elegant home of Maxim and Louisa Furnival. Even more shocking is the admission of Alexandra, the General's wife, that she had murdered him in a jealous rage. Meanwhile, Carlyon's sister Edith is convinced that Alexandra had another motive, one powerful enough to save her from the gallows. She enlists the help of stalwart friend Hester Latterly, who brings into the case famed lawyer Oliver Rathbone and ex-police officer Thomas Monk (The Face of a Stranger, A Dangerous Mourning). Together, they delicately probe the lives of the Carlyon familyThaddeus's father, a retired colonel; his daughter; forbidding mother Felicia; high-strung daughter Isabella, and young son Cassian. The uncovering of Alexandra's secret is slowed by repetitious interviews, constant underlining of the period social mores, and Monk's tortuous exploration of his own past, lost to amnesia after an accident some time back. But the pace quickens as Alexandra's trial draws near, and the story ends in a courtroom drama loaded with vigor, tension, and poignancyample reward for the patient reader. Overall: another winner in this fine series.