Thursday, December 9, 2010
A CHRISTMAS ODYSSEY by Anne Perry
Even in Christian countries, some places don't have Christmas.
Anne Perry's A Christmas Odyssey describes a descent into hell. Three men (later joined by a young woman) descend into the hell of Victorian London's underworld. Their trip finally takes them literally downward into the tunnels below the city.
A wealthy friend asks Harry Rathbone to find his missing son. Enmeshed in London's underworld of drugs and prostitution, the friend's son may already be dead.
Anne Perry paints compelling pictures of the upperworld and the underworld. The story focuses on the four questing people.
Only occasionally do they come out of the hell into which they have descended, and then we have the irony of Christmas merriment as so much pain and grief flows below.
One thing is especially unusual. The mystery in the book revolves around, not who committed the murders, but who was murdered.
I really liked this book. It is a quick read (one day, which is some kind of record for me). Because the book focuses on four characters, it is so unlike many mystery books. To stretch the story, a lot of authors (I myself have done it) include more characters until you are aswim in people. Not so with Anne Perry in this book. This story belongs to one little group. They bond and they accomplish some of what they set out to do.
As I understand it, Anne Perry's Christmas mystery stories have become a tradition. I was new to that tradition last year. I am thankful to have learned about it.