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==Synopsis of the book:== It is mid December in the middle of the 19th Century. Henry Rathbone is planning to visit the Dreghorn Family. It is not a pleasure visit on this occasion as his good friend Judah Dreghorn has recently died in an accident while crossing the stream at the edge of his estate. He and the dead man's family are coming from all of the world to pay their respects and try to comfort his wife Antonia and son Joshua. However as soon as Henry arrives Antonia tells him that a man Judah sent to prison for 11 years, recently released is now slandering the dead man's name. This man Ashton Gower is still claiming he was falsely imprisoned for forging the documents where the dead man lived. Henry and Judah's brothers plan to find the truth about their brother's unusual death and silence Gower and his scandalous remarks about this liked and respected dead man. ==My thoughts on this novel:== My overall thought was this was a good well-written piece of fiction. That in itself was surprising as initially I was concerned that I would not enjoy this story at all and I thought I might struggle to read it. The reason for this is as a rule I do not enjoy period stories, I think the reason is I cannot relate to what I do not know and the 19th Century was a very different time for today. The other reason is in my limited experience the main stories from this time I have seen tend to be love stories and being a typical man I find all the flowery talk about emotions and love just too much. However I am very pleased to say this story was more of a mystery and a puzzle to be solved, which is far more to my liking. So despite finding it initially hard to relate to travel by horse or carriage and having domestic staff, I found I liked the story and the way the author wrote it. This is my first experience of Anne Perry's work so I was very unsure if I would take to her particular style of writing. Since reading the book I have checked out her web site and have read that she specialises in Victorian England. I was however astounded that she has written well in excess of 60 novels and been nominated for countless awards. This book was written in 2004 and forms part of a series of seven novels focusing around Christmas in Victorian times. I did find the story initially a little slow and I was not sure at all what the author had planned for the reader. But, I was pleasantly surprised when the mystery started to unfold and Henry started trying to find the truth, I really started to enjoy. It seemed strange that because of the time there was little said about and no involvement by the Police. So if Henry wanted to find the truth he would have to find it out for himself. And did he anyway as by looking into Gower's claim about a miscarriage of justice would he be blackening his dead friends name as well? The pace of the novel increased as the story developed. With a conclusion that was logical, understandable and seemed in context to what I had read. I like endings of books that leave a little open to the reader's imagination and in some aspects this book had that as well. What I found it the further I read into the story the more I enjoyed and got into the whole story. I enjoyed the mystery within it and the fact it was not all straightforward and not the answer I originally expected. The only thing I would say against it was it was a very short story as far as I was concerned at only 160 pages and that included 18 pages introduction into the author's next novel. For me this was too short, as I would as well as this very story liked more background and possibly a sub plot or two to add extra depth to the book. The other very surprising feature of this novel and something I don't personal like is the book had no chapters to break it up. This really didn't work for me, as I like to read in chunks and have breaks when I reach the end of a chapter. I thought it would have flowed better if it was written in this way and would have been more attractive to the reader. The lead character is Henry Rathbone who I found an interesting and effective character. I completely understood his motivation and found him very easy to relate to. The only thing that worried me was I knew little about his past, his work, I would have liked to have a more detailed information about his personality as I didn't really feel I understood him as I would like. The same could also be said about the Dreghorn brothers, who while I sympathised with their emotions I didn't feel they were distinct in their own personalities to be easily recognisable. That said I did enjoy both the style this story was written in and found I was very keen to discover the truth. I think following this I will definitely try another novel from Anne Perry as can see quality in her writing, I just think I need to get used to reading about this part of our history to appreciate her work more. A new copy of this in paperback version is available on Amazon for £5.09. For more information about this author go to: www.annaperry.net ==Conclusion:== Yes I would recommend this as an enjoyable and interesting period novel. It was well written and I particularly enjoyed the way the story unfolded and the mystery within it. Although I would have liked a longer story with more depth in what it was like to live in this period and to have formed a better understanding with the novels lead characters. Thanks for reading my review. This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name. @CPTDANIELS February 2010.