Anne Perry's Christmas Vigil: Two Victorian Holiday Mysteries
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IN THESE TWO HOLIDAY MYSTERIES SET IN VICTORIAN LONDON, CHRISTMAS COMES WITH A HELPING OF MAGIC AND MURDER.
A CHRISTMAS PROMISE
Three days before Christmas, in London’s East End, thirteen-year-old Gracie Phipps encounters eight-year-old Minnie Maude Mudway, freezing and alone. Only the day before, someone murdered Minnie Maude’s Uncle Alf and made off with his rag-and-bones cart—as well as with Charlie, the beloved donkey who pulled it. Now, Grace and Minnie Maude set off to rescue Charlie. But the path that Uncle Alf had taken to his death was not his regular route, and in his cart, the children are told, was a dazzling golden casket that could very well be a Pandora’s box of evil or a shining prize of hope.
A CHRISTMAS ODYSSEY
Ten days before Christmas, James Wentworth feels not joy but grief. His reckless son, Lucien, has been lured into a world of drugs and wild passion. Wentworth’s only hope, he believes, is his old friend Henry Rathbone, who volunteers to search for the wayward young man with the help of two new companions—Squeaky Robinson, a reformed brothel-keeper, and Crow, a mysterious slum doctor. As this odd trio gathers clues about Lucien’s disappearance on London’s dark streets, they find themselves on a mission whose outcome they cannot begin to guess.
swallowing it and taking another bite. “The wrong way?” he prompted. She answered with her mouth full. “Jimmy Quick always goes round ’is streets in one way. Uncle Alf went the other way. ’E started at the end, an’ did it backward, so ’e were always everywhere at the wrong time.” She leaned forward eagerly. “That were when ’e picked up the casket, nobody were expectin’ ’im even ter be there. It were put fer someone else!” “I see.” The kettle started to whistle with steam, and Balthasar stood
have heard of them, no matter what you think—then he isn’t coming back. They don’t need to know that.” Crow was silent for several moments. “Is that what you would want?” he said finally. Squeaky was indignant. “How the hell do I know? As if I had children what should’ve been gentlemen.” “I think we should tell them the truth,” Crow replied thoughtfully. “At least tell Mr. Rathbone the truth. Let him decide what to tell Lucien’s father.” “Soft as muck, you are!” Squeaky shook his head. “And
women to those who wanted or needed to buy. He had despised them and was perfectly happy that they should know it. It was a straight exchange: money for the use of a woman. Well, maybe it was not quite that simple, but close enough. There were never any questions of honor or embarrassment in it. Violence, now and again, of course. People needed to be kept to their side of the arrangement. They tended to slip out of it if you allowed them to. Let yourself be taken advantage of once and it would
weight had been lifted from him. He was straightening his jacket and beginning to look around him when he saw her. She was standing almost ten feet away from them, leaning slightly backward against one of the pillars that held up the ceiling. It was not her laughter that had caught his attention, or any movement of the man facing her, it was the extraordinary grace of her body. Her face was lifted to look at the man, her profile delicate, her long white throat smoothly curved. Her hair was
burial for Rosa, if Ash will admit that the second body was Niccolo, and that he killed him in revenge for his murdering Rosa.” “Are you sure he did?” Squeaky asked. “No, I just think so. It makes sense. Who else would?” Henry asked. “Perhaps he didn’t mean to, just lost his temper. Apparently he was violent. Maybe he was wild on withdrawal from cocaine. No one had seen him since her death.” “You mean you believe Lucien that he didn’t do it,” Squeaky concluded, not sure if he was pleased,