A Christmas Escape: A Novel by Anne Perry
IIt took me a while to realize that this story is about Hester Monk's brother, Charles Latterly. Charles has decided to escape the harshness of a Victorian London Christmas and has journeyed to a small island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, off the north coast of Sicily, containing one of three active volcanoes in Italy. His hostelry is perched against the upper reaches of the volcano.
Here Charles hopes to attain a measure of inner healing, a different perspective. What he finds is a strange mixture of guests and a volcano that appears anything but benign.
The dark grumbling of that entity are viewed differently by the guests. Some are drawn to it, others repelled.
Languid days, the mystery of the volcano, the sense of something almost mystical beyond the grasp of mere mortals colours the background and enhances the electricity amongst the various guests, all calmed by the host, Stefano whose culinary abilities seem to act at times as a soothing tonic not only for the guests but for the volcano itself.
The English guests are a very different group--some grating, others ineffectual and yet others discerning. Charles is much taken, as am I, by the delightfully precocious teen, Candace Finbar. A young girl who sees to the heart of things way beyond the normal scope of understanding with a maturity that belies her years. Her's and Charles' unlikely, charming friendship becomes a central focus.
All is not as it should be in this small guesting community and when the volcano spews forth it's anger and a member of the household dies, fleeing the danger portended by the volcano is spiked with the added realization that there is a killer amongst the company.
A very unusual story that speaks on a multitude of levels, a Christmas offering with a difference.
A NetGalley ARC