Just in time for Christmas, for the fans of the Thomas and
Charlotte Pitt mystery series, Anne Perry has constructed a
delightful Victorian mystery featuring one of its more interesting
characters, Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould.
Lady Vespasia is entertaining her highborn friends at Applecross
for a holiday weekend of games, good food and romance, when one of
her guests commits suicide --- the victim of the waspish tongue of
another. The group is stunned and outraged and demands some sort of
revenge. At the urging of her good friend, Omegus Jones, Vespasia
suggests to the somewhat less than recalcitrant harpy that perhaps
she should atone for her foul deed with an unusual act of
expiation. In front of the gathered group, she suggests that she
should embark on the long and possibly dangerous journey to
northern Scotland to inform the victim's mother of her daughter's
sad demise. Not only that, but she should bring the grieving mother
back to attend.
In order to make certain this task of medieval origins is
completed, Vespasia offers to accompany her friend on the journey.
Vespasia, her friend, the victim and her mother are revealed to
have secrets in their pasts that come to light as the journey
progresses. Perhaps the suicide is something more than meets the
Perry spins a tale of intrigue lavishly adorned with Victoriana and
moral conundrums. One almost wishes that expiation were a way of
meting out deserved punishment in our times.
Reviewed by Roz Shea on January 21, 2011