Cover image for Winter of despair
Title:
Winter of despair
ISBN:
9780727889126
Edition:
First world edition.
Physical Description:
236 pages ; 23 cm
Summary:
"November, 1853. Inspector Field has summoned his friends Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins to examine a body found in an attic studio, its throat cut. Around the body lie the lacerated fragments of canvas of a painting titled A Winter of Despair. On closer examination, Wilkie realizes he recognizes the victim, for he had been due to dine with him that very evening. The dead man is Edwin Milton-Hayes, one of Wilkie's brother Charley's artist friends. But what is the significance of the strange series of faceless paintings Milton-Hayes had been worked on when he died? And why is Charley acting so strangely? With his own brother under suspicion of murder, Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens set out to uncover the truth. What secrets lie among the close-knit group of Pre-Raphaelite painters who were the dead man's friends? And who is the killer in their midst?"--Publisher.
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Summary

"Stellar . Superior plotting and characterization lift this entry. Fans of Harrison's Burren mysteries will be pleased" - Publishers Weekly Starred ReviewWilkie Collins must prove his brother is innocent of murder in the second of the compelling new Gaslight mystery series.November, 1853. Inspector Field has summoned his friends Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins to examine a body found in an attic studio, its throat cut. Around the body lie the lacerated fragments of canvas of a painting titled A Winter of Despair. On closer examination, Wilkie realizes he recognizes the victim, for he had been due to dine with him that very evening. The dead man is Edwin Milton-Hayes, one of Wilkie's brother Charley's artist friends. But what is the significance of the strange series of faceless paintings Milton-Hayes had been worked on when he died? And why is Charley acting so strangely?With his own brother under suspicion of murder, Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens set out to uncover the truth. What secrets lie among the close-knit group of Pre-Raphaelite painters who were the dead man's friends? And who is the killer in their midst?


Author Notes

Cora Harrison turned to writing historical fiction after she retired from teaching to live on a farm near the Burren in the west of Ireland. As well as the Gaslight mysteries, she is the author of the Reverend Mother mysteries and the 'Mara' series of Celtic mysteries, set in 16th-century Ireland.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Harrison's stellar second Gaslight mystery improves on 2019's Season of Darkness. In 1855, authors Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, who are close friends despite their differing levels of literary success, are strolling in London when they're summoned to a murder scene by the real-life Inspector Field, who inspired Dickens's Inspector Bucket in Bleak House. The victim is Edwin Milton-Hayes, an artist who was slashed to death in his studio by someone who also vandalized a painting of his titled Winter of Despair. Collins has a personal connection to the dead man, who was scheduled to dine at his home and also knew Collins's artist brother, Charley. The studio contains four other paintings with ominous titles such as The Night Prowler and Root of All Evil. With Charley a prime suspect, Collins and Dickens team up again to investigate, pursuing the theory that Milton-Hayes was blackmailing the people depicted in the five pictures. Superior plotting and characterization lift this entry. Fans of Harrison's Burren mysteries will be pleased. Agent: Peter Buckman, Ampersand Agency (U.K.). (Jan.)


Kirkus Review

Now that they've bonded over the writing life and homicide investigation, eminent Victorian Charles Dickens and eminence-in-training Wilkie Collins tackle a second case of murder.No one thinks Edwin Milton-Hayes was a particularly outstanding painter. So why did whoever slashed his throat in his studio take the trouble to slash one of his last paintings, as well? The answer, Dickens swiftly decides, is that Milton-Hayes, whose plummy name isn't the one he was born with, was a blackmailer with a novel approach. Paintings like The Night Prowler, Forbidden Fruit, Taken in Adultery, Den of Iniquity, Root of All Evil, and Winter of Despair, commissioned by the monumentally clueless Canon Rutter, showed compromising situations in which Milton-Hayes' society acquaintances had placed themselves, with the actual portraits of subjects, like talented young artist Walter Hamilton, flirtatious wife Molly French, schoolgirl Florence Gummidge and her mother, gallery owner William Jordan, and his wife, Helen, to be revealed later unless the painter's financial demands were met. What's particularly alarming to Wilkie is that his troubled younger brother, Charley, seems to pop up everywhere Wilkie and Dick lookmaking Inspector Field, of London's Detective Force, all but certain that Charley is the killer. As in the Victorian sleuths' debut (Season of Darkness, 2019), Harrison alternates chapters narrated by Wilkie, who's constantly fretting over his lack of progress on Hide and Seek, his second novel, with distinctly less successful third-person chapters presented from the viewpoint of Sesina, the fearful, impressionable, curious Collins housemaid. Sadly, Dickens himself cuts a much less impressive figure this time, playing a supporting role till the very last minute, when he's on hand to pull a rabbit from his hata surprise that no doubt pleases him as much as his readers.More ingenious than Season of Darkness but altogether less striking. Best wait and hope for two out of three. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.