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==Synopsis of the book:==
It is a cold night in early December 1864. Henry Rathbone is enjoying the company of his good friend James Wentworth. However he is surprised by his friends request. As the mans son Lucien has disappeared. In the last year this wayward young man's visit have been rare and he has not been heard or seen in London in the last month. Wentworth is worried his son is at the very least keeping bad company and maybe even dead.
Henry agrees to help, but like Wentworth he knows nothing about the seedier side of life. So he enlists the help of a former criminal squeaky Robinson who in terms brings in a young man called Crow who is training to become a Doctor. These men must visit a variety of unsavoury places and chat to whores, thieves, drunks and those under the influence of drugs such as opium and cocaine to try and find Lucian. And what will happen if they do find him, will he want to return home to his father?
==My thought on this novel:==
Overall I found this an entertaining and enjoyable Victorian mystery. And while I have read many stories from this series what always impresses me is the way the author skilfully takes you back in time so that you imagine you are with the men as they attempt to find the missing man. This for me is a real art because it is such a different world and the author is excellent at making the reader feel they have stepped back in time, without making it unbelievable.
I must admit I am a fan of Anne Perry's Christmas collection of stories. So far she has written 10 with this being the 8th and it was first published in 2010. Although so far she has written a grand total of 66 novels. Anne is a British author who specialises in period stories and was selected by The Times as one of the twentieth century's '100 Masters of Crime'.
For me there is a simplicity in her stories that make them very easy to read and because the subject matter is usually enthralling they are hard to put back down. If I have one criticism of not only this story but the rest of the series is the stories are painfully short, this one was just 153 pages long. But don't be fooled as this short story is full of depth and quality that it is an very good, well thought out story that always had me fascinated in it. I found I read this one over the course of a weekend and because I think I had been looking forward to it for a long time I felt a little cheated that I finished it so quickly.
I have been looking for another from this series and so when I found this at a second hand bookstall I knew I had found a book that I would enjoy simply by the fact every previous novel I have read in this series I had. Therefore the decision to purchase had already been made without me having to check out the summary of it. This I did as I always do anyway, it was a good size and I liked the concepts it shared about these men looking for this wayward young man in the run down and less desirable parts of 19th Century London.
As soon as I started reading the story I found I was interested in it. I liked the concept of this older gentleman Henry looking for this missing young man. I thought there were many possibilities to this idea and I was keen to know what would happen, who they would meet and what unusual characters they would meet. I wasn't disappointed but I did wonder how the author would stretch this story and maintain the readers interest in the search. I need not have worried because the author brought a new mystery that needed solving into the mix.
I enjoyed the way the story developed and the pace of the story. It was a mystery within a mystery and one I felt always involved in and one I wanted the answers to. Maybe if I am being very critical I would say the solution could have should have lasted longer and involved a few more twists as for me the story ended to quickly. Added to this I would have really appreciated an epilogue as I wanted to know what happened next to all the key characters within the story.
It is difficult to separate who exacts is the leading character in the story, You would think it would be Henry the man asked to find Lucien. However he was supported and almost always with Doctor Crow and Squeaky Robinson. For me Squeaky was the most interesting of the three because of he varied past and his desire the help Henry, a man he had never met before. Indeed when we did get insights into their personalities it was Squeaky's that was shared with the reader so you got to really know how he felt about what was happening to them. As a result it was him I liked best and respected because in his younger days he had not been as pleasant.
This was a story full of interesting, different and unusual characters. In many ways the story of the London 'underworld' allowed for this, but I was impressed by the variety the author brought into the story. The only slightly annoying feature was when Bessie was talking because she was not educated it was hard to understand exactly what she was saying. I found I had to read and re-read her lines and then even say them out aloud so I understood them.
The story was rich is both suspense and mystery. I think because neither Henry nor I knew what to expect it added to the suspense within it. It was as if you did not have a clue what would happen around each corner. For me the story leant itself for twists within the story, one I thought was excellent but I will not give it away. But I thought the author could and should have brought a few more into play or a red herring or two to add to the mystery.
As I have previously mentioned while I very much enjoyed this story it ended far too quickly for me. It was a shame because there where possibilities how it could have been extended without reducing the quality of the writing. In the past I have criticised Anne Perry's Christmas stories because they always involve a large amount of snow. Well I suppose it is the picture postcard image of Christmas but in reality it is very rare. So in this story I was pleased the team trying to find Lucien only had to deal with rain, frost and the cold.
In many ways to is nice to go back seemingly to a more innocent time, however as this story shows this can be deceiving as in many ways there were equally bad problems to deal with. However as with all these Christmas stories it is one of hope and the belief that this festive time bring with it a new beginning and an opportunity to make amends.
Once again this is a Victorian mystery from Anne Perry that I would recommend. Despite the fact the story is painfully short it was full of quality and well thought out writing. It was a story that I found very enjoyable with several colourful and fascinating characters within it. For me it was a very easy to read story and I found in no time had I completed it and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Year first published: 2010.
Thanks for reading.
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
© CPTDANIELS December 2012.