A Victorian Mystery
D. J. Taylor
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Egg-stealing in the Scottish highlands, fraud and felony on the streets of London, and strange goings-on in the fens... Captivating and ingenious, full of suspense and teeming with life, "Kept" is a Victorian mystery about the extreme and curious things men do to get what they want. In August, 1863 - Henry Ireland, a failed landowner, dies unexpectedly in a riding accident, leaving a highly-strung young widow. Not far away lives Ireland's friend James Dixey, a celebrated naturalist who collects strange trophies, a stuffed bear, a pet mouse, and a wolf that he keeps caged in the grounds of his decaying house, lost in the fog on the edge of the fens.The poachers, Dewar and Dunbar, with their cargo of pilfered eggs; Esther the observant kitchen maid, pining to be re-united with her vanished admirer; the ancient lawyer Mr Crabbe made careless by snobbery; John Carstairs, in search of his cousin, the elusive widow; an enigmatic debt-collector, busily plotting an audacious robbery; various low-life henchmen; and Captain McTurk of Scotland Yard, patiently investigating the circumstances of the Mr Ireland's death and many other things besides - all are drawn into a net of intrigue with wide and sinister implications. Ranging from the lochsides of Scotland to the slums of Clerkenwell, and from the gentlemen's clubs of St James's to the Yukon wilds, "Kept" is a gorgeously intricate novel about the urge to possess, at once a gripping investigation of some of the secret chambers of the human heart and a dazzling re-invention of Victorian life and passions.
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