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Title: The Twisted Root
Author: Anne PERRY
Publisher: See notes
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Victorian-era private detective William Monk and his new wife, Hester, investigate the mysterious disappearance of Miriam Gardiner, who vanishes from a croquet party at the sumptuous estate of her future in-laws, leaving behind the body of a murdered coachman.
William Monk, the unquestionably handsome, somewhat vain, but genuinely tenderhearted "agent of enquiry" is back on the streets of Victorian London, investigating his 10th case, a missing woman. Miriam Gardiner was due to be betrothed to a much younger man, a well-to-do gentleman named Lucius Stourbridge. But during a family croquet party, the bride-to-be vanished, apparently fleeing in a coach driven by a family servant named Treadwell. Monk would normally be reluctant to get involved in a simple case of pre-wedding jitters, but his own recent marriage to the headstrong nurse Hester Latterly gives him a newfound empathy for the heartbroken Lucius. Of course, as always in Perry's historical mysteries, all is not quite as it seems. Treadwell is found murdered, and the missing Miriam becomes the number-one suspect. Monk is convinced that she "could and would do no intentional evil," even as Hester connects her to another illicit crime. Eventually unearthed by London's finest, Miriam is arrested and charged with murder, and it's up to barrister Oliver Rathbone to absolve her in court (with a little help from his good friends William and Hester Monk).
With a plot twist around every corner, Anne Perry knows just how to keep us in suspense, right up to the exceedingly dramatic finale. The Twisted Root is a luminous whodunit from the queen of Victorian mystery. --Naomi Gesinger