From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From 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
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.