Through Anne Perry's magnificent Victorian novels, millions of readers have enjoyed the pleasures and intrigue of a bygone age. Now, with the debut of an extraordinary new series, this New York Times bestselling author sweeps us into the golden summer of 1914, a time of brief enchantment when English men and women basked in the security of wealth and power, even as the last weeks of their privileged world were swiftly passing. Theirs was a peace that led to war. On a sunny afternoon in late June, Cambridge professor Joseph Reavley is summoned from a student cricket match to learn that his parents have died in an automobile crash. Joseph's brother, Matthew, as officer in the Intelligence Service, reveals that their father had been en route to London to turn over to him a mysterious secret document-allegedly with the power to disgrace England forever and destroy the civilized world. A paper so damning that Joseph and Matthew dared mention it only to their restless younger sister.
This absorbing mystery/spy thriller, set in tranquil Cambridge just before the onset of the Great War, marks a powerful start to bestseller Perry's much anticipated new series. In a lush and deceptively peaceful opening scene, college professor and chaplain Joseph Reavley is interrupted while watching a cricket game by his intelligence officer brother, Matthew, who reports the sudden death of their parents in a car crash. This horrifying news sets off a long but compelling investigation by the brothers that takes them across verdant summertime England, looking for a secret document that their father was trying to deliver to Matthew at the time of his death. Against a backdrop of ominous news from the continent, Perry artfully weaves connections between pacifist students at Cambridge, one of whom is also murdered, and German agents who may be planning "a conspiracy to ruin England and everything we stand for." The intrigue is further complicated by jilted lovers and jealous spouses at the university, all with grudges against an alleged blackmailer in their midst who may also be privy to exam cribbing and other illicit goings-on. Perry's title, a quotation from G.K. Chesterton, is a portent of the carnage that soon awaits the youth of England, yet by the final resolution of this gripping case, many graves have regrettably already been filled in Cambridge's serene churchyards. (Sept. 1) Forecast: For Perry fans concerned that her two long-running Victorian series have been losing steam, this fresh beginning, backed by a 12-city author tour, will renew their faith. Expect stronger than usual sales. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 30, 2004
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Excerpt from No Graves As Yet by Anne Perry
It was a golden afternoon in late June, a perfect day for cricket. The sun burned in a cloudless sky, and the breeze was barely sufficient to stir the slender, pale skirts of the women as they stood on the grass at Fenner ' s Field, para- sols in hand. The men, in white flannels, were relaxed and smiling.
St. John ' s were batting and Gonville and Caius were fielding. The bowler pounded up to the crease and sent the ball down fast, but a bit short and wide. Elwyn Allard leaned forward, and with an elegant cover drive, dispatched the ball to the boundary for four runs.
Joseph Reavley joined in the applause. Elwyn was one of his students, rather more graceful with the bat than with the pen. He had little of the scholastic brilliance of his brother, Sebastian, but he had a manner that was easy to like, and a sense of honor that drove him like a spur.
St. John ' s still had four more batsmen to play, young men from all over England who had come to Cambridge and, for one reason or another, remained at college through the long summer vacation.
Elwyn hit a modest two. The heat was stirred by a faint breath of wind from across the fenlands with their dykes and marshes, flat under the vast skies stretching eastward to the sea. It was old land, quiet, cut by secret waterways, Saxon churches marking each village. It had been the last stronghold of resistance against the Norman invasion eight and a half centuries ago.
On the field one of the boys just missed a catch. There was a gasp and then a letting out of breath. All this mattered. Such things could win or lose a match, and they would be playing against Oxford again soon. To be beaten would be catastrophic.
Across the town behind them, the clock on the north tower at Trinity struck three, each chime on the large A-flat bell, then followed the instant after on the smaller E-flat. Joseph thought how out of place it seemed, to think of time on an eternal afternoon like this. A few feet away, Harry Beecher caught his eye and smiled. Beecher had been a Trinity man in his own years as a student, and it was a long-standing joke that the Trinity clock struck once for itself and once for St. John ' s.
A cheer went up as the ball hit the stumps and Elwyn was bowled out with a very respectable score of eighty-three. He walked off with a little wave of acknowledgment and was replaced at the crease by Lucian Foubister, who was a little too bony, but Joseph knew his awkwardness was deceiving. He was more tenacious than many gave him credit for, and he had flashes of extraordinary grace.