The 17th in the popular series of Victorian murder mysteries featuring Thomas and Charlotte Pitt.
To all outward appearances, it is yet another exclusive party at the magnificent Ashworth Hall. Select members of Victorian High Society gather for a weekend at the lavish country seat of up-and-coming MP Jack Radley, hosted by his charming wife, Emily. A phalanx of maids, valets, cooks and grooms is at the ready. Also in attendance are Emily’s sister Charlotte and her husband, Thomas – that is to say, Superintendent Pitt of Bow Street.
For this is a secret conference on the heated subject of Irish Home Rule, with a team of negotiators finely balanced between Catholic and Protestant, extremist and moderate. The topic is full of urgency since the news of Parnell and Kitty O’Shea is about to emerge from the divorce courts. Beneath the patina of civilized talks lurk resentments and beliefs which give rise to devious acts and complex manipulations. Not all the delegates are convinced that their interests will be best served by peace. Not everyone will live to see the end of the conference…
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Long-time readers of Anne Perry will be familiar with Inspector Thomas Pitt, the low-born London copper and his better-bred wife, Charlotte. Set during the Victorian era, Perry's mysteries usually examine the dark underbelly of aristocratic life. Homosexuality, adultery, and paedophilia have all been subjects of her previous books; in Ashworth Hall she injects a new ingredient--politics. Ashworth Hall is the name of an estate where, in the autumn of 1890, a highly secretive meeting is being held to discuss Anglo-Irish relations. The "Irish Problem" soon takes a backseat to murder, however, and Inspector Pitt, who as the son of servants grew up on just such an estate, is called in to solve the case. While he investigates below-stairs, Charlotte gathers clues above. As usual, their collaboration is successful, both in terms of solving the crime and as literature.Review:
‘Elegant period novel, with a contemporary resonance… Perry has a wonderful feel for period and remains utterly convincing’
‘The Troubles perfectly suit Perry’s gift for rooting large-scale social conflict in the minutiae of domestic intrigue’
‘Her latest story is especially fascinating. An intriguing read’
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0006510914