Sunday, October 26, 2014

“A Christmas Hope” by Anne Perry – Murderous Holidays

A Christmas Hope by Anne Perry - (Book cover)
The Christmas holidays are a double-edged sword; though some revel in the celebratory occasion they present, others merely see them as a reminder of loneliness and emptiness.

In Anne Perry's A Christmas Hope, we are presented with a somewhat paradoxical picture: Claudine Burroughs, a woman who lacks in nothing can't help but see the coming holidays as the latter.

Nothing in her life seems to satisfy her desire for entertainment and excitement, and things don't promise to be any different this year... until she makes the acquaintance of a young poet, Dai Tregarron. Or more precisely, until said poet becomes the scapegoat for the murder of a young prostitute, smuggled into a high-class party.

With Claudine seeing that, obviously, there is some sort of major cover-up happening by the high class of London society, decides that a murder investigation is precisely what her holidays needed, and sets out to find the culprit, despite very well knowing the kinds of people she will inevitably end up crossing, should she get close enough to the truth.

I'll say it straight away: if the murder mystery itself is what attracted you to this book from the very beginning, then you are going to be a bit disappointed for in terms of being a whodunit, this book is a rather simple exercise for the answer is virtually clear from the beginning.

However, the telling of the tale itself is still worth the read if you really find yourself craving a Victorian murder mystery, for the development of the intrigue gives way to some rather enthralling descriptions of the environment and of society at that time in general, enough to get lovers of the period excited about revisiting it.

As far as the characters themselves go, I have to admit that I found the novel to be a bit lackluster, especially in terms of the potential it had and the heroine of it. I found the protagonist to have been a bit cliched, and personally, had a hard time connecting with the somewhat-glamorously portrayed bourgeoisie; it just feels like the characters in this novel are entire worlds apart from that of the reader, and though it may certainly be true, in my perspective it works against the story.

Nevertheless, many of the characters here are actually quite interestingly-developed, being given more than enough page space for some interesting arcs which serve to support the main mystery.

In terms of writing I do have to admit that A Christmas Hope is on the level of a masterpiece, although not necessarily because it is groundbreaking, but rather, for how smooth, seamless and solid it is. Words aren't minced and are all used with precision to create specific images or describe events and people in the exact way Perry wanted us to perceive them.

The mere technical accomplishment in this domain turns this novel into a page-turner; though on the surface it doesn't look all that special, you'll be surprised with how fast you'll be swallowing it up.

A Christmas Hope by Anne Perry - (Book cover)
All in all, I wouldn't really say that A Christmas Hope is the kind of novel that defies expectations and pushes boundaries; rather, it is yet another very solid entry in a somewhat specific genre, designed to cater to those who like historical detective fiction, especially set in Victorian England.

In other words, if you do consider yourself as one of those fans, this book should definitely make it on your to-read list.

Anne Perry (Author)

Anne Perry

Personal site

Anne Perry (born under the name of Juliet Marion Hulme) is an English author whose forte is historical detective fiction, and though her best-known works may be the Thomas Pitt and William Monk series, the event in her life that really sets her apart from many other authors was her conviction for the participation in the murder of her friend's mother in 1954.

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