"An annual treat," declared The Wall Street Journal of Anne Perry's Victorian-era holiday mysteries. Now she continues this magnificent tradition with A Christmas Garland, a yuletide tale set in exotic India. This time the mistress of mystery tells the story of a terrible crime that sets the stage for another: accusing an innocent man of murder.
The year is 1857, soon after the violent Siege of Cawnpore, with India in the midst of rebellion. In the British garrison, a guard is killed and an Indian prisoner escapes, which leads to yet more British deaths. Cries for revenge are overwhelming. Despite no witnesses and no evidence against him, a luckless British medical orderly named John Tallis is arrested as an accomplice simply because he was the only soldier unaccounted for when these baffling crimes were committed.
Though chosen to defend Tallis, young Lieutenant Victor Narraway is not encouraged to try very hard. Narraway's superiors merely want a show trial. But inspired by a soldier's widow and her children, and by his own stubborn faith in justice, Narraway searches for the truth. In an alien world haunted by memories of massacre, he is the accused man's only hope.
The trial of John Tallis equals the white-knuckle best of Anne Perry's breathtaking courtroom dramas. And thanks to a simple Christmas garland and some brilliant detective work, Narraway perseveres against appalling odds, learning how to find hope within himself--and turn the darkest hour into one full of joy and light.
A particularly strong plot distinguishes bestseller Perry's 10th Christmas mystery (after 2011's Christmas Homecoming). In India in 1857, unrest over the oppressive minority rule of the East India Company has come to a head, with thousands of civilians as well as company employees dying in the ensuing violence. Against this tense backdrop, inexperienced Lt. Victor Narraway must defend Cpl. John Tallis, the medical orderly at Cawnpore, who stands accused of aiding an escaped Indian prisoner, Dhuleep Singh, who murdered a guard and fled with classified information on British troop movements. Though no one doubts Tallis's guilt, Narraway's military superiors order him to mount a vigorous defense to preserve a sense of law and order. The tension becomes palpable as the lieutenant frantically strains to find some evidence to exonerate Singh. Few readers will anticipate the clever solution. Agent: MBA Literary. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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October 29, 2012
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