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Joyeux Noël and A Christmas Legacy by Anne Perry.

December 24, 2021 21 comments

A Christmas Legacy by Anne Perry (2021) Not available in French.

So, we’re back on the Covid merry-go-round, playing a game of Omicron Says. In other words, it’s Christmas with Covid Season 2.

New restrictions are blooming all over Europe like toxic mushrooms infecting our Christmas again. In France, we are exempted of too many restrictions for now, except the usual health pass, the hydroalcoholic gel fiesta and the mask wearing. They are starting to feel as the new normal. We’re in a frenzy of PCR testing for family reunions and we’ll try to enjoy ourselves despite the omicron cloud over our heads.

With all the bad news piling up, I was looking for something sweet after reading Betty by Tiffany MacDaniel. I turned to Anne Perry’s last Christmas story, A Christmas Legacy and it did the job.

In this one, we’re with with Gracie, Charlotte and Thomas Pitt’s former maid. She has now left their service to get married. She has three children and is happy with her new life. A few days before Christmas, Millie, a girl Gracie has taken under her wing and who works as a housemaid in a Londoner townhouse, comes to her house and says she feels insecure at her employer’s house, Gracie replaces her for a couple of days to investigate what’s going on in this mansion.

This is a book you read under a plaid with tea, Christmas cookies and papillotes. It’s nothing to write home about but a nice and relaxing read. Exactly what I needed.

I hope you and your family are safe and well and that you were able to spend Christmas with the people you love. If you’re locked down because of this damned virus, I hope you planned a wonderful self-party and celebrated the holiday anyway. We, avid readers, are lucky bastards: our main enjoyment is Covid-compliant. We should count our blessings, and that’s definitely one.

Give me some news in the comment section if you wish and Joyeux Noël!

A New-York Christmas by Anne Perry

January 17, 2017 6 comments

A New York Christmas by Anne Perry (2014) French title: Un Noël à New York. Translated by Pascale Haas.

perry_christmasSomething strange happens with recurring characters of crime fiction series. They become like long term colleagues or distant relatives. You see them getting married or divorced, become parents, have their children grow up and sometimes become grand-parents. You hear or see of their family. All this procures a sense of closeness, as if these characters were real, as if reading a new volume of the series was a mean to keep in touch with them. Isn’t that powerful of a writer to create such a bond between their readers and their characters?

That’s exactly how I feel about the characters of Anne Perry’s two series, the William Monk one and the Thomas Pitt one. A New York Christmas is a side volume of the Thomas Pitt series. It features his daughter Jemima, whose birth I remember from an early volume of the series. And my thought was “Wow, Jemima is already 23, I remember of her when she was born and when she was a child.” See? Exactly like friends or relatives you don’t see very often and it seems like their children grew up overnight when in truth you’re just getting older.

perry_noelWell, we’re in 1904 and Jemima Pitt is now 23. She’s chaperoning a young bride, Delphinia on her trip from London to New York, where her fiancé is waiting for them. Delphinia will marry Brent Albright, a rich young man who belongs to a powerful family from New York. Delphinia’s father couldn’t accompany her for health reasons and her mother left them when she was a little girl. When Jemima and Delphinia arrive to New York, Brent’s older brother Harley embarks Jemima in an odd mission. He has heard that Delphinia’s mother was in town and they need to find her before she crashes the wedding ceremony and embarrasses her daughter and her future in-laws. But Jemima senses there’s more to the story of Delphinia’s mother than just someone who abandoned her child. Where is she and what were her reasons to leave everything behind?

For those who’s never read the Pitt series, you need to know that Thomas Pitt is a policeman who was educated as a gentleman and who married in a higher social class than his. Charlotte married him against her parents’ wishes. She was a feisty young woman who wouldn’t play by good society’s rules and wanted to use her brains. She is fascinated by her husband’s job and she always gets involved in her husband’s investigations, going to places a policeman couldn’t go. Jemima is her parents’ daughter, ie, she’s thrilled to help solving a little mystery.

Unfortunately, she’s not as savvy as she thinks and Harley might have ulterior motives…And that’s all I will tell you about the plot.

Let’s face it, it’s not the novella of the century but I still enjoyed it. I read it as quickly as you watch an entertaining film. It was what I was looking for when I picked it up and it met my expectations. Given the ending, I wonder if there will be a third series with a spinoff of the Pitt branch in New York. It might be nice to have a new source of comfort read.

PS: I put the two covers from the English and the French editions. They are not the same but look alike.

Acceptable Loss by Anne Perry

December 6, 2016 6 comments

Acceptable Loss by Anne Perry (2011) French title : La fin justifie les moyens. Translated by Florence Bertrand

perry_acceptable_lossAcceptable Loss is the eighteenth volume of the Monk series created by Anne Perry. I’ve read them all, they’re part of my comfort reading diet. Set in London in the second part of the 19th century, the main characters are Monk, his wife Hester and their friend Sir Oliver Rathbone. Monk has lost part of his memory in a cab accident years before. Hester used to be a nurse in the Crimea war and she now manages a clinic that helps prostitutes. Sir Rathbone is a famous barrister.

In the previous volume, they had solved an ugly case of children prostitution. Monk is now commander of the River Police. He’s called to the banks of the river Thames when Orrie Jones finds the body of Mickey Parfitt in the water. Monk thinks he’s been murdered, which is confirmed by the legist. Worse: Parfitt was strangled with a knotted expensive silk scarf. The murder was premeditated. Parfitt owned a ship moored nearby on the river Thames and it was used as a secret club for members of the good society. Parfitt provided these gentlemen with sex shows involving little boys.

Monk is horrified by this traffic. On the one hand, he’s not keen on finding the murdered as he thinks Parfitt deserved his fate. On the other hand, this is the second case involving children trade and the last one was somehow unfinished. He wants to find out who financed Parfitt, helped him set up the boat and brought new clients. Parfitt didn’t have the means or the connections to start this business on his own.

Monk investigates, Hester meddles and Rathbone is in a difficult position as his father-in-law might be involved in this nasty business.

Acceptable Loss met my expectations. I picked it to be entertained the way you watch a film. Mission accomplished. Anne Perry manages to renew herself and to keep things interesting for her long time readers. I’ll read the next one when I need comfort read.

Betrayal at Lisson Grove by Anne Perry

February 19, 2011 10 comments

Betrayal at Lisson Grove by Anne Perry. (438 pages)

I have read a lot of Anne Perry’s crime fiction novels when my children were babies and I was too tired to read anything more challenging than basic crime fiction and page-turner novels. So I’m familiar with her characters and finding them again is like taking some news about distant relatives.

 Betrayal at Lisson Grove is a novel from the Thomas Pitt series. At the beginning of the series, Thomas Pitt is a policeman in the Bow Street police station in London, around 1885. He’s usually in charge with solving murders among the high society. His wife Charlotte and her sister Emily take part in his investigations, entering into the receptions and gathering clues for Thomas. After he was dismissed from the police, Pitt is hired by the Special Branch.

Charlotte and Thomas Pitt are an unusual couple. They met in the first book The Cater Street Hangman, when Thomas investigates the murder of Charlotte’s older sister Sarah. Thomas is the son of a steward and has been raised with the son of the estate his father was running. He’s educated and has good manners. He’s intelligent, honest, sober. His status in undefined, somewhere between the domestic and the gentleman. Charlotte is from a higher social class than Thomas and was no marriage material in her social circle as she expressed her opinions too freely. Marrying Thomas means turning her back to her social life. She does it anyway, losing material comfort to win freedom of speech and of action. Meeting Thomas makes her go out of comfortable boudoirs and face the real world.

So what’s happening in this one? While Thomas Pitt is led to investigate in St Malo (France) with his colleague Gower, his chief Victor Narraway is unjustly accused of embezzlement. The money he had secretly sent to an Irish activist who gave him information about the movement in favour of Home Rule, mysteriously came back on one of his own and rarely used bank accounts. He decides to go to Ireland to discover who sent the money back. As Pitt is his protégé, it is highly probable that he loses his job as well when he comes back from France. To protect her family’s revenues, Charlotte decides to accompany Victor Narraway to Ireland and help him discover the truth.

The plot is rather simple, it is easy to follow. The descriptions of the English and Irish societies are pleasant. Poor Englishmen lost in Saint-Malo, they miss their marmalade and their eggs and bacon for breakfast! These incredible French people never do things as English people would, so they only get apricot jam and omelette.

Anne Perry was right to have her main character change of job since she had already written about many possible ways and reasons to murder someone for personal motives. The shift in Thomas Pitt’s career gives her the possibility to explore political fights and discuss the uprisings for social rights that take place in many European countries at that time. She also writes about the situation in Ireland.

I read it on a train, it was perfect, I had an agreeable journey. I got what I was looking for, easy but satisfying crime fiction. I think my tastes are shifting regarding crime fiction: I’m more attracted by polars, as we call them in French. (I don’t think I’ll ever manage to understand the subtleties between English crime fiction categories, so I’m using the French term.) Good for me there are plenty of good polars that I haven’t read.

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