Authors: Anne Perry
“Give her a good murder and a shameful social evil, and Anne Perry can write a Victorian mystery that would make Dickens’s eyes pop.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Perry combines murder with a profile of the morals and manners of Victorian society…. Murder fens who prefer their crimes with a touch of class should heat some scones and nestle back for the afternoon.”
—Atlanta Journal & Constitution
“Her best yet … Perry’s rich prose and splendidly authentic renderings of the dress, manners, dialogue, and customs of mid-nineteenth-century London, combined with a mesmerizing courtroom drama [and] a plot that’s filled with surprising twists and unexpected suspense.”
“Chilling … [An] intriguing insight into Victorian skulduggery.”
—San Gabriel Valley Daily Tribune
“Totally absorbing … [An] intense and gripping story.”
“A taut, enthralling blend of courtroom thriller and complex, compelling whodunit.”
“A courtroom battle of wits that rivals the works of Scott Turow and Patricia Cornwell … A most satisfying story of love, betrayal, dark deeds and justice. Rarely does one find such exceptional writing in a murder mystery.”
—Baton Rouge Magazine
“Anne Perry has made the Victorian era her own literary preserve…. Perry’s work is consistently top-notch.”
—The San Diego Union
“Perry’s Victorian-era mysteries are—and THE SINS OF THE WOLF is a fine example-perfect for a long evening in a cozy corner. They are rich in plotting and characterization.”
—The Anniston Star
“Anne Perry is my choice for today’s best mystery writer of Victoriana.”
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Fans of Perry know she serves up her clues with generous dollops of Victorian manners and morals and there’s usually class, caste and kinky sex to keep the plot boiling. I don’t want to give it away, but rest assured, Perry doesn’t disappoint.”
—The Toronto Globe & Mail
“[Perry] is adept at showing the reader two sides of Victorian London—the dark side where people are barely surviving and glittering society where people sometimes kill to hide terrible secrets.”
—The Knoxville News-Sentinel
“Perry skillfully evokes the atmosphere of nineteenth-century London and its sharp social contrasts.”
By Anne Perry
Published by The Random House Publishing Group:
Featuring Thomas and Charlotte Pitt
THE CATER STREET HANGMAN
DEATH IN THE DEVIL’S ACRE
SILENCE IN HANOVER CLOSE
THE HYDE PARK HEADSMAN
HALF MOON STREET
THE WHITECHAPEL CONSPIRACY
LONG SPOON LANE
BUCKINGHAM PALACE GARDENS
Featuring William Monk
THE FACE OF A STRANGER
A DANGEROUS MOURNING
DEFEND AND BETRAY
A SUDDEN, FEARFUL DEATH
THE SINS OF THE WOLF
CAIN HIS BROTHER
WEIGHED IN THE BALANCE
THE SILENT CRY
A BREACH OF PROMISE
THE TWISTED ROOT
SLAVES OF OBSESSION
FUNERAL IN BLUE
DEATH OF A STRANGER
THE SHIFTING TIDE
The World War I Novels
NO GRAVES AS YET
SHOULDER THE SKY
ANGELS IN THE GLOOM
AT SOME DISPUTED BARRICADE
WE SHALL NOT SLEEP
The Christmas Novels
A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY
A CHRISTMAS VISITOR
A CHRISTMAS GUEST
A CHRISTMAS SECRET
A CHRISTMAS BEGINNING
A CHRISTMAS GRACE
A Ballantine Book
Published by The Random House Publishing Group
Copyright © 1994 by Anne Perry
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.
Ballantine and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
To Kimberly Hovey
for her help and friendship
ESTER LATTERLY SAT
upright in the train, staring out of the window at the wide, rolling countryside of the Scottish Lowlands.
The early October sun rose through a haze above the horizon. It was a little after eight in the morning, and the stubble fields were still wreathed in mist, the great trees seeming to float rootless above it, their leaves only beginning to turn bronze on odd branches here and there. The buildings she could see were of solid gray stone, looking as if they had sprung from the land in a way the softer colors of the south never did. There were no thatched roofs here, no plaster walls pargeted in patterns, but tall chimneys smoking, crowstepped gables outlined against the sky, and broad windows winking in the early light.
She had come home when her parents had died at the close of the Crimean War, nearly a year and a half before. She would like to have stayed in Scutari until the bitter end, but the family tragedy had required her presence. Since then she had attempted to put into effect some of the new nursing practices she had learned so painfully, and even more, to reform England’s old-fashioned ideas of hospital hygiene in accordance with Miss Nightingale’s theories. And for her pains, she had been dismissed as opinionated and disobedient. There really was no defense against either charge. She was guilty.
Her father had died in social and financial disgrace. There was no money for her, or for her brother Charles. He
would have provided for her, of course, out of his own salary, and she could have lived with him and his wife as a dependent, but that thought was intolerable. Within a short space of time she had found a position as a private nurse, and when the patient recovered, she had found another. Some were agreeable, others less so, but she had never been more than a week without some remunerative employment, and so she was her own mistress.
This summer she had taken another hospital appointment briefly, at the urgent request of her friend and frequent patron Lady Callandra Daviot, when the death of Nurse Barrymore had threatened Dr. Christian Beck with arrest and prosecution. When that matter had been finally resolved she had found another private post, but that too was at an end, and she was once again seeking a place.
She had found it in the form of an advertisement in a London newspaper. A prominent Edinburgh family was seeking a young woman of good birth, and some nursing background, to accompany Mrs. Mary Farraline, an elderly lady of delicate but not critical health, who wished to make the journey to London, and back again some six days later. One of Miss Nightingale’s ladies would be preferred. All travel would naturally be paid for by the family, and there would be a generous remuneration for the duties required. Applications were to be sent to Mrs. Baird McIvor, at 17 Ainslie Place, Edinburgh.
Hester had never been to Edinburgh before—indeed, she had not been to Scotland at all—and the thought of four such train journeys at this time of the year seemed most agreeable. She wrote to Mrs. McIvor stating her experience and qualifications, and her willingness to accept the position.
She received a reply four days later, and enclosed with Mrs. McIvor’s acceptance of her application was a second-class train ticket for the night journey to Edinburgh on the following Tuesday, leaving London at 9:15 in the evening and arriving in Edinburgh at 8:35 the morning after. A carriage
would meet her at Waverley Station and take her to the Farraline house, where she would spend the day becoming acquainted with her patient, and that evening she and Mrs. Farraline would board the train and return to London.
Hester had made some inquiries, out of interest, even though she would barely arrive in Edinburgh before she left it again, at least on the initial visit. Perhaps when she returned with Mrs. Farraline after her stay in London she would have the opportunity to remain a day or two. Her time would be her own, and she could see something of the city. She had been informed that in spite of being the capital of Scotland, it was a great deal smaller than London, a mere one hundred and seventy thousand compared with London’s nearly three million. Nonetheless it was a city of great distinction, “the Athens of the North,” renowned for its learning, most particularly in the fields of medicine and law.
The train rattled and lurched around a curve in the tracks, and when the air had cleared Hester could see in the distance the dark rooftops of the city, dominated by the crooked skyline of the castle perched on its massive rock, and beyond them all, the pale gleam of the sea. In spite of all common sense, she felt a thrill of excitement ripple through her as though she were at the outset of some great adventure, not a single day in a strange house before a very ordinary professional task.