A Victorian Mystery
A gripping novel of romance and rivalry, gambling and greed, from acclaimed novelist and biographer D.J. Taylor
In the heat of June all England seems to head for Epsom downs – aristocrats and beggars, society beauties and street girls,bookies and gypsies, hawkers and acrobats, punters and thieves – whole families are streaming along the dusty roads, heading for the greatest race of the year. Hopes are high, nerves are taut, hats are tossed in the air for this is Derby Day.
For months, people have been waiting and plotting for this day. Even in snowy January, when snowflakes drift into foggy London courts, and the wind whistles through the alleys, the ale-house talk turns on the race. Across town, in smart Kensington, old Mr Gresham is baffled by his tigerish daughter Rebecca, who seems to have something on her mind. In the clubs of St James’s, the rakish Mr Happerton plays billiards with his crony Captain Raff, while out at Scroop Hall sad Mr Davenant broods over his champion horse Tiberius, and waits for his daughter’s new governess. Across the channel, the veteran burglar Mr Pardew is packing his bags to return. Everywhere money jingles and plans are laid. As the months pass the pace quickens and dastardly deeds are done, foxing even the stalwart police detective Captain MacTurk.
In this exuberant, rolling novel, rich with the idioms of Victorian England, the mysteries pile high, carrying us up to the downs on the day of the great race, waiting with bated breath as the story gallops to a finish that no one expects.
“As you would expect from somebody steeped in Victorian fictional history, Taylor rarely puts a foot wrong...the colourful events which take place on the Downs should delight any racing enthusiast”
“Taylor, who has written an acclaimed biography of Thackeray, is steeped in authentic detail...Rich and gorgeous as a plum cake, this is absorbing entertainment indeed”
Kate Saunders, Times