Posted by Ann E. Nichols on 4/1/2001
Today I read a used first edition that I bought, so part of my review is my memory of the first time I read it. Unlike some other mysteries I'd reread lately, I had no difficulty remembering the main points -- they made too strong an impression.
I thought I knew what was going on by page five. I was correct in one supposition, but the truth was far stranger than I'd imagined.
For a time it may seem that the typhoid epidemic in evil twin Caleb's stomping grounds is irrelevant, although interesting in itself if you care about medical history. I liked learning about Hester's version of oral rehydration therapy and blanched when I read about burning tobacco leaves for fumigation. Do not allow yourself to become impatient. It's all relevant and that will be revealed in due time.
Is Angus' wife, Genevieve, a cold-hearted accessory to his murder? Did Caleb murder Angus? Is Angus still alive? Why did the author give him the same name as one of the Pitts' cats? (You may ask, but you won't get an answer.) Since we have another Angus, will an Archie show up?
What about Lord Ravensbrook, who was guardian to the Stonefield brothers? What's his role in this tragedy? Mr. Niven was unwittingly ruined by his friend, Angus. Does he really hold no grudge?
Who is the lovely Drusilla and why is she seeking out William Monk? She's a member of Society, as he isn't. Certainly her many charms give Monk the opportunity to unfavorably compare Hester to her in his mind. Will he live to regret this or does Hester have a rival? Does Hester even care?
If you're a fan of Oliver Rathbone, don't worry. He'll have plenty to do during the trial scene. Hester isn't neglected, either. I thoroughly enjoyed her solution to one person's nasty little trap for our hero.
Contrary to what other reviewers have said, this book isn't confusing. While I admit to having been partially fooled the first time I read it, once a crucial point became clear, everything made perfect sense. I definitely recommend this novel.