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A stirring mystery that exposes the horror of the opium trade out of India, woven with a metaphysical depiction of the terrors of the Cawnpore massacres during the India uprising of the 1870s, through Tonia’s dreams of her dearest friend in Cawnpore. Such a pleasure that such a terrific book is so well written and edited.
In this very well researched mystery set in London and the India of the Indian Mutiny, history comes to vibrant life with a great story, with good characters and fascinating details of clothes, customs and conditions. Great stuff!
There is a mystical thread to this story as Antonia dreams the experiences of her childhood friend, now caught in a brutal uprising in India. It’s an effective way of showing simultaneous events on opposite sides of the world--the disintegration of the rule of the British East India Company on the subcontinent and events in London where Antonia is helping Aunt Aethelbert to sponsor her friend’s daughter in society. The contrast of conditions is powerful, events in India horrific. The mystery that Charles and Antonia must solve is the death of an Indian gentleman in London known to friends of theirs, tying the two sides of the plot together. London plot involves the horrors of opium dens where Charles’ clergyman brother Freddy, a character readers will remember from a previous book, is ministering. I have been recently following the PBS series Victoria, so I enjoyed visualizing the scene of presenting Sarah to the young queen and her handsome new husband.
The descriptions of the country side and historical events makes you feel like you are there in the middle of the story. Lord Charles and Lady Antonia are invited to Charles Aunt Aelfridas to meet Sophia the daughter of Emilia the close friend of Antonia. Discussions among the guests is about the up rising in India and Emilia is working in the middle of the attack.. Antonia keeps having dreams about Emilia being in trouble that effects her health and Charles fears will harm their unborn child. Two murders connected to India take place in London and there is a lot of suspense and mystery as Charles and Antonia get involved.
Antonia and Charles present an Aunt’s ward into London society at the same time as Antonia’s best childhood friend is caught up in a brutal massacre in India. ms. crow builds suspense by blending historical facts with horrifying detail in graceful Victorian prose that fascinates, grips the reader and doesn’t let go. I admire the author’s meticulous research of the Indian mutiny, and her gracious style of writing which never falters.