ASHWORTH HALL.

Perry, Anne.

Published by New York: Fawcett Columbine, (1997.) dj
ISBN 10: 0449908445 / ISBN 13: 9780449908440
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SIGNED hardcover first edition - First US printing. Victorian mystery featuring Thomas Pitt of Scotland Yard and his wife Charlotte. SIGNED on the title page. 373 pp. Fine in a fine dust jacket (as new.) Review copy with author's photo laid in. Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: With every book she writes, Anne Perry, the supreme enchanter among historical novelists, contributes a mesmerizing new chapter to her magical re-creation of Victorian England. Here, she abandons London's cobblestone streets and exclusive drawing rooms for a great country house, Ashworth Hall, where a fateful secret conference is about to begin.

The gathering has the appearance of a smart autumn house party -- stunning womena and powerful men enjoying a few days of leisurely pleasure in a setting of exquisite beauty. In fact, the guests are Irish Protestants and Catholics gathered in a reluctant parley over home rule for Ireland, a problem that has plagued the British Isles since the reign of Elizabeth I. When the meeting's moderator, government bigwig Ainsley Greville, is found murdered in his bath, the negotations seemed doomed.

Superintendent Thomas Pitt of Scotland Yard almost despairs as divorce proceedings involving the great Irish Nationalist leader Charles Stewart Parnell and his mistress, Kitty O'Shea, become an open scandal. To make matters worse, it seems the late Greville himself may have had a less than savory personal life. The surviving guests -- six men and five women -- unleash their true feelings, or perhaps only pretend to do so. Their servants follow suit. Unless Pitt and his clever wife, Charlotte, can root out the truth, simmering passions above and below stairs may again explode in murder, the hopeful home rule movement may collapse, and civil war may destroy Ireland.

Never before has Pitt borne such terrible responsibilities, and never has Charlotte been less able to share them.

Review: Longtime readers of Anne Perry will be familiar with Inspector Thomas Pitt, the low-born London copper with a better-born wife, Charlotte. Set during the Victorian era, Perry's mysteries usually examine the dark underbelly of aristocratic life. Homosexuality, adultery, and pedophilia have all been subjects of her previous books; in Ashworth Hall she injects a new ingredient: politics.

Ashworth Hall is the name of an estate where, in the autumn of 1890, a highly secret meeting is being held to discuss Anglo-Irish relations. The "Irish Problem" soon takes a backseat to murder, however, and Inspector Pitt, who as the son of servants grew up on just such an estate, is called in to solve the case. While he investigates below-stairs, Charlotte gathers clues above. As usual, their collaboration is successful, both in crime-solving and as literature.

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Bibliographic Details

Title: ASHWORTH HALL.
Publisher: New York: Fawcett Columbine, (1997.) dj

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