Yes, it's a Christmas book review! (Only 52 sleeps!)
I've been a fan of Anne Perry for a long time. She writes the most wonderful historical novels. Her William Monk mystery series remains my favourite. Although I have missed a few of her books over the years, I have never missed reading the annual Christmas novella she's been writing since 2003.
This year's book - A Christmas Garland - takes us to 1857 India. It is a few days before Christmas, but things are not peaceful in Cawnpore. The Indians are rebelling against the rule of the East India Company. Lieutenant Victor Narraway is a young soldier, only nineteen, but with a year in India under his belt already. When his superior officer calls him in to tell him he must defend a medical orderly accused of murder he is stunned - he has no formal law training at all. But the orderly swears he is innocent. Can Narraway save him from the hangman's noose in the few days he's been given?
Make yourself a pot of tea, turn on your reading lamp and settle in for another deliciously atmospheric tale from Perry. Her detailed descriptions bring historic events and settings to life. Narraway is a character I recognize from the Thomas Pitt mystery series. It was a treat to see him at a much earlier stage of his life. The opposing counsel is just as well drawn, albeit it in a negative light. The language and tone of the time are captured in Perry's dialogue - the horrors of war, the sense of honour and duty.
And into this slim volume, Perry manages to weave together a good mystery (I missed the conflicting clue) with a sense of hope and the human spirit. Reading Perry's annual Christmas book has become a tradition for me. And for those readers who haven't sampled Perry's writing yet, it's a great introduction. Read an excerpt of The Christmas Garland.