Date: December 2003
it at Amazon US
Historical Crime [1852, Berkshire & Scottish Highlands]
Rachel A Hyde
of Anne Perry's series about Thomas and Charlotte Pitt will know
all about the stately society beauty, Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould,
but only as an elderly widow. This Christmas novella goes back to
when she was only thirty, married to a kind but dull man and wistfully
remembering her days as a revolutionary in Rome. At a house party
in early December, she witnesses two widows pursuing the same man,
somebody who could give either woman the position and money that
she needs. A chance cruel remark leaves Gwendolen devastated and
the next morning she is found dead in the lake. Their host, Omegus
Jones, has the surprising idea to make the guilty party do penance
for their sin by taking Gwendolen's sealed suicide note to her mother
who lives in the north of Scotland. Fingers point at Isobel and
so she must go forth or be in permanent disgrace, and with her goes
her devoted friend Vespasia. It will be a surprising and revealing
journey for both of them.
This is a surprise Christmas package
from Anne Perry, the length of a novella and featuring a character
that is not exactly one of her usual sleuths. As usual, you can
expect surprise revelations, plenty of suspense and some interesting
characters, although the one who seemed most convincing was the
flawed but very human Isobel.
is the inevitable picture of society life with its glittering surface
above a morass of cruelty, insecurity, greed and pettiness that
Perry paints so expertly and, of course, a murder to solve.
also the oddly mediaeval idea of a pilgrimage to expiate sin, the
unreal ghostly landscape of north Scotland in the depths of winter
and the presence of Christmas and you have all the ingredients of
an ideal holiday season story. This would make a good introduction
to Perry's work. Her work continues to delight and absorb.