Cover image for The twisted root
Title:
The twisted root
Author:
Perry, Anne.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First large print edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Published by Random House Large Print in association with Ballantine Books, [1999]

©1999
Physical Description:
488 pages (large print) ; 25 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780375408571
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

The tenth novel in the riveting series featuring Victorian private eye William Monk - by the acclaimed author of A Breach of Promise. In stunning feats of imagination, Anne Perry brings to life the lost world of England's Victorian Age. With The Twisted Root, she holds us rapt with a chilling story of love, betrayal, and consummate evil. Miriam Gardiner has disappeared from a croquet party at the luxurious mansion of her future in-laws. On Hampstead Heath, private investigator William Monk finds the coach in which she fled and the murdered body of the coachman. There is no trace of Miriam. What strange compulsion drove her to abandon the prospect of a loving marriage and financial abundance? Miriam's fateful flight ends in a race with the hangman, as Monk and clever nurse, Hester Latterly- themselves now newlyweds- pursue the elusive truth.


Author Notes

Anne Perry was born Juliet Hume on October 28, 1938 in Blackheath, London.

Sent to Christchurch, New Zealand to recover from a childhood case of severe pneumonia, she became very close friends with another girl, Pauline Parker. When Perry's family abandoned her, she had only Parker to turn to, and when the Parkers planned to move from New Zealand, Parker asked that Perry be allowed to join them. When Parker's mother disagreed, Perry and Parker bludgeoned her to death. Perry eventually served five and a half years in an adult prison for the crime.

Once she was freed, she changed her name and moved to America, where she eventually became a writer. Her first Victorian novel, The Cater Street Hangman, was published in 1979. Although the truth of her past came out when the case of Mrs. Parker's murder was made into a movie (Heavenly Creatures), Perry is still a popular author and continues to write. She has written over 50 books and short story collections including the Thomas Pitt series, the William Monk series, and the Daniel Pitt series. Her story, Heroes, won the 2001 Edgar Award for Best Short Story. Her title's Blind Justice and The Angel Court Affair made The New York Times Best Seller List.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Perry's methodical "agent of inquiry" William Monk is back in another historical puzzler set in Victorian England. More comfortable now with his status as an independent investigator and mellowed somewhat by his recent marriage to nurse Hester Latterly, Monk takes on the troubling challenge of finding Miriam Gardiner, who disappeared from a garden party at the home of her wealthy, much younger fiance, Lucius Stourbridge. Lucius wants her back, even after the coachman who drove her away turns up dead and Miriam is accused of the crime. In the meantime, Monk's beloved Hester, who has some investigative credentials of her own, is quietly searching for the thief who is raiding hospital medicine stores, adjusting to her new marriage, and crusading for hospital reforms. The tangents dovetail neatly, with Perry delivering her usual leisurely paced story suffused with period details, many of which focus on the conventions of gender and class that so marked the times. What's best, however, is the denouement, when the guilty party and the meaning of the title are dramatically unveiled in a packed London courtroom. --Stephanie Zvirin


Publisher's Weekly Review

In this 10th entry in the popular series featuring prickly English investigator William Monk and his equally prickly bride, nurse Hester Latterly (A Breach of Promise, etc.), Perry mulls over the moral justification of criminal acts. Just back from his honeymoon in the summer of 1860, Monk tries to locate Mrs. Miriam Gardiner, a comely widow who inexplicably fled in a coach from her wealthy young fianc‚'s home. Monk's search takes him to Hampstead Heath, where the coachman's body is foundÄmurdered, he deduces, by a single blow to the head. Could Miriam have struck that deadly blow as she fled, and if so, why? Cornered at last, Miriam refuses to explain her behavior or implicate the coachman's murderer, even though Monk suspects she's the victim of some atrocity. Meanwhile, Hester gears up to defend Cleo Anderson, a saintly nurse who admits to filching hospital supplies to treat impoverished war veterans. Plot mechanics grind away as Perry strains to connect the two crimes, resolving matters with an ending that reads like Henry Fielding without the laughs. Fans of earlier Monk and Latterly mysteries may enjoy Perry's sometimes overwrought depiction of the two-career couple negotiating who cooks supper, but the many other anachronisms just don't wash (says Hester's colleague: "you want to have nurses visit the poor in their homes? You are fifty years before your time"). Despite the characters' tendency to sermonize self-righteously, Perry's theme is the hazy nature of guiltÄa topic sure to intrigue those who've followed her career. For thrills, however, readers should turn to other books in the series. Mystery Guild selection; Random House audio. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

This is the tenth William Monk mystery by the prolific and talented Perry. A beautiful widow named Miriam Gardiner has disappeared, leaving behind a distraught fianc‚ and a dead coachman. Monk is called in to find Gardiner and then must uncover the truth when she is charged with murdering the coachman. Oliver Rathbone agrees to represent her, but she refuses to defend herself. Whose secret is she willing to die to protect? A compelling subplot involving Hester, Monk's wife, and a dying war veteran adds emotional depth to the story. Perry sticks to her proven formula: a desperate and impassioned effort to save someone who is wrongfully accused. There is strong characterization, particularly of the newly married Monk and Hester. Not Perry's best, but still highly recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/99.]ÄLaurel Bliss, New Haven, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

1   THE YOUNG MAN stood in the doorway, his face pale, his fingers clenched on his hat, twisting it around and around.   "Mr. William Monk, agent of enquiry?" he asked. He looked to be in his early twenties.   "Yes," Monk acknowledged, rising to his feet. "Come in, sir. How can I assist you?"   "Lucius Stourbridge." He held out his hand, coming farther into the room. He did not even glance at the two comfortable armchairs or the bowl of flowers pleasantly scenting the air. These had been Hester's idea. Monk had been perfectly happy with the sparse and serviceable appearance the rooms had presented before.   "How can I help you, Mr. Stourbridge?" Monk asked, indicating one of the chairs.   "Lucius Stourbridge sat uncomfortably on the edge of it, looking as if he did so more because he had been instructed to than from any desire. He stared at Monk intently, his eyes filled with misery.   "I am betrothed to be married, Mr. Monk," he began. "My future wife is the most charming, generous and noble-minded person you could wish to meet." He glanced down, then up at Monk again quickly. The ghost of a smile crossed his face and vanished. "I am aware that my opinion is prejudiced, and I must sound naive, but you will find that others also regard her most highly, and my parents have a sincere affection for her."   "I don't doubt you, Mr. Stourbridge," Monk assured him, but he was uncomfortable with what he believed this young man would ask of him. Even when he most urgently needed work he only reluctantly accepted matrimonial cases. And having just returned from an extravagant three-week honeymoon in the Highlands of Scotland, this was rapidly becoming one of those times. He had an agreement with his friend and patron, Lady Callandra Daviot, that in return for informing her of his most interesting cases, and--where she wished-- including her in the day-to-day process, she would replenish his funds, at least sufficiently for his survival. But he had no desire or intention that he should avail himself of her generosity any longer.   "What is it that troubles you, Mr. Stourbridge?" he asked.   Lucius looked utterly wretched. "Miriam--Mrs. Gardiner-- has disappeared."   Monk was puzzled. "Mrs. Gardiner?"   Lucius shook himself impatiently. "Mrs. Gardiner is a widow. She is ..." He hesitated, a mixture of irritation and embarrassment in his face. "She is a few years older than I. It is of no consequence."   If a young woman fled her betrothal it was a purely private matter. If there was no crime involved, and no reason to suppose illness, then whether she returned or not was her decision. Monk would not ordinarily have involved himself. However, his own happiness was so sharp he felt an uncharacteristic sympathy for the anguished young man who sat on the chair opposite him so obviously at his wits' end.   Monk could never before remember having felt that the world was so supremely right. Of course, this was midsummer 1860, and he had no memory, except in flashes, of anything at all before the coaching accident in 1856, from which he had woken in hospital with a mind completely blank. Even so, it was beyond his ability to imagine anything so complete as the well-being that filled him now.   After Hester had accepted his proposal of marriage he had been alternately elated and then beset by misgivings that such a step would destroy forever the unique trust they had built between them. Perhaps they could not satisfactorily be anything more than friends, colleagues in the fierce pursuit of justice. He had spent many bleak nights awake, cold with the fear of losing something which seemed more and more precious with every additional thought of no longer possessing it.   But as it happened, every fear had vanished like a shadow before the rising sun over the great sweeping hills they had walked together. Even though he had discovered in her all the warmth and passion he could have wished, she was still as perfectly willing and capable of quarreling with him as always, of being perverse, of laughing at him, and of making silly mistakes herself. Not a great deal had changed, except that now there was a physical intimacy of a sweetness he could not have dreamed, and it was the deeper for having been so long in the discovery.   So he did not dismiss Lucius Stourbridge as his better judgment might dictate.   "Perhaps you had better tell me precisely what happened," he said gently.   Lucius took a gulp of air. "Yes." Deliberately, he steadied himself. "Yes, of course. Naturally. I'm sorry, I seem to be a little incoherent. This has all struck me ... very hard. I don't know what to think."   So much was quite apparent, and Monk with difficulty forbore from saying so. He was not naturally tolerant. "If you would begin by telling me when you last saw Miss--Mrs. Gardiner, that would be a place from which to proceed," he suggested.   "Of course," Lucius agreed. "We live in Cleveland Square, in Bayswater, not far from Kensington Gardens. We were having a small party in celebration of our forthcoming marriage. It was a beautiful day, and we were playing a game of croquet, when quite suddenly, and for no apparent reason, Miriam--Mrs. Gardiner--became extremely distraught and rushed from the garden. I did not see her go, or I would have gone after her--to find out if she was ill or if I could help..."   "Is she often ill?" Monk asked curiously. Genuine invalids were one thing, but young women subject to fits of the vapors were creatures with whom he had no patience at all. And if he were to help this unfortunate young man, he must know as much of the truth as possible.   "No," Lucius said sharply. "She is of excellent health and most equable and sensible temperament."   Monk found himself flushing very slightly. If anyone had suggested Hester were the fainting sort he would have pointed out with asperity that she indisputably had more stomach for a fight, or a disaster, than they had themselves. As a nurse on the battlefields of the Crimea she had more than proved that true. But there was no need to apologize to Lucius Stourbridge. It had been a necessary question.   "Who saw her leave?" he asked calmly.   "My uncle, Aiden Campbell, who was staying with us at the time--indeed, he still is. And I believe my mother also, and one or two of the servants and other guests."   "And was she ill?"   "I don't know. That is the point, Mr. Monk! No one has seen her since. And that was three days ago."   "And those people who did see her," Monk said patiently, "what did they tell you? Surely she cannot simply have walked out of the garden into the street alone, without money or luggage, and disappeared?"   "Oh ... no," Lucius corrected himself. "The coachman, Treadwell, is missing also, and, of course, one of the coaches."   "So it would appear that Treadwell took her somewhere," Monk concluded. "Since she left the croquet match of her own will, presumably she asked him to take her. What do you know of Treadwell?"   Lucius shrugged slightly, but his face was, if anything, even paler. "He has been with the family for three or four years. I believe he is perfectly satisfactory. He is related to the cook--a nephew or something. You don't think he could have... harmed her?"   Monk had no idea, but there was no purpose in causing unnecessary distress. The young man was in a desperate enough state as it was.   "I think it far more likely he merely took her wherever she wished to go," he replied, and then realized his answer made no sense. If that were the case, Treadwell would have returned within hours. "But it does seem as if he may have taken your carriage for his own purposes." Other far darker thoughts came to his mind, but it was too soon to speak of them yet. There were many other simpler answers of everyday private tragedy which were more likely, the most probable being that Miriam Gardiner had simply changed her mind about the marriage but had lacked the courage to face young Lucius Stourbridge and tell him so.   Lucius leaned forward. "But do you believe Miriam is safe, Mr. Monk? If she is, why has she not contacted me?" His throat was so tight his words were half strangled. "I have done everything I can think of. I have spoken with every one of my friends she might have gone to. I have searched my mind for anything I could have said or done to cause her to mistrust me, and I can think of nothing. We were so close, Mr. Monk. I am as certain of that as of anything on earth. We were not only in love, but we were the best of friends. I could speak to her of anything, and she seemed to understand, indeed, to share my views and tastes in a way which made her at once the most exciting and yet the most comfortable person to be with." He colored faintly. "Perhaps that sounds absurd to you--"   "No," Monk said quickly, too quickly. He had spoken it from the heart, and he was not accustomed to revealing so much of himself, certainly not to a prospective client in a case he did not really want and which he believed impossible to see to a happy solution.   Lucius Stourbridge was gazing at him intensely, his wide, brown eyes deeply troubled.   Excerpted from The Twisted Root by Anne Perry All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.