Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Christmas Garland-Anne Perry

A Christmas Garland

Anne Perry

Ballantine, Oct 30 2012, $18.00

ISBN: 9780345530745

In 1857, as a rebellion sweeps across India, Colonel Latimer assigns newcomer Lieutenant Victor Narraway with an unpleasant assignment. He is to defend British medical orderly Corporal John Tallis for abetting the escape of a Sikh prisoner Dhuleep Singh that led to the murder of a guard Cutter Singh and other deaths. With the recent Siege of Cawnpore on everyone’s mind and the deaths of comrades, the garrison occupants demand execution immediately.

Narraway assumes his defense of Tallis is a meaningless check the box formality as he expects his “client” to hang. However, Narraway realizes there is no physical proof or an eyewitness tying Tallis to the murders. In fact the evidence is indirect as he is the only soldier who apparently has no alibi. Though his comrades warn him to do nothing, Narroway, encouraged by a widow and her children, investigates what really happened.

The latest annual Perry Christmas treat (see A Christmas Homecoming, A Christmas Odyssey, A Christmas Promise, A Christmas Grace, and A Christmas Beginning) is a terrific Victorian era legal thriller. The background of a rebellious India enhances the tale as the protagonist begins to believe his client is innocent while almost everyone else demands a scapegoat. However, believing in the innocence is not the same as proving it as Narraway learns; yet he finds hope to have a Happy Christmas if he can prevent a travesty of justice.

Harriet Klausner

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