Fans hooked on Pallisers writing since his engrossing puzzle-box debut, The Quincunx, will be delighted to learn that he has returned to mid-1800s England, where Richard Shenstone has been sent down from Cambridge in uncertain disgrace. Living with his newly impoverished mother, he learns that creepy letters making the village rounds speak of wicked crimes, even murder.
Christmas, 1863. Richard Shenstone, aged seventeen, has been sent down from Cambridge under a cloud of suspicion. Addicted to opium and tormented by disturbing sexual desires, he finds temporary refuge in the creaking old mansion inhabited by his newly impoverished mother and his sister, Effie, whose behavior grows increasingly bizarre. Soon, graphic and threatening letters begin to circulate among the local populace, where no one is quite who he seems and almost anyone can be considered a suspect in a series of crimes and misdemeanors ranging from vivisection to . . . murder. Fans of Charles Palliser's beloved The Quincunx and The Unburied-as well as readers of Sarah Waters and Michel Faber-will delight in this, the author's first new novel in more than ten years. Hailed for fiction that is "mesmerizing, meticulous" (Entertainment Weekly), Palliser confirms his reputation as "our leading contemporary Victorian novelist" (Guardian).