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 There's trouble afoot as negotiators open a crucial 1890 conference on the fate of Ireland. Magnetic Protestant Nationalist Charles Stewart Parnell is snarled in the divorce that will bring him down and leave the country leaderless. Closer to London, the conference chair, Ainsley Greville, has already survived one assassination attempt, but a Battersea constable who infiltrated the local Fenians has been less fortunate. Since his wife's sister will be hostess of the gathering at Ashworth Hall, Bow Street Supt. Thomas Pitt reluctantly agrees to attend, keenly aware of the parvenu status that makes even the subordinate masquerading as his valet look down on him. The stage is set for violence--but hardly for the romance Kezia Moynihan discovers when she surprises her brother, extremist Protestant negotiator Fergal Moynihan, in flagrante with nationalist poet Iona O'Leary, wife of equally rabid Catholic negotiator Lorcan McGinley. Murder follows apace, and although Perry (Weighed in the Balance, 1996, etc.) seems more assiduous in pursuing the finer points of backstairs blarney (the Pitts' maid Gracie is smitten by McGinley's valet) than in unraveling the mystery, the air of pumped-up intrigue is skillfully maintained till the abrupt final curtain. The Troubles perfectly suit Perry's gift for rooting large- scale social conflict in the minutiae of domestic intrigue. Fans of the series will be delighted. (Author tour)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-449-90844-5
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1997


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