To Die Like a Gentleman

Robert Barnard, Author, Bernard Bastable, Author St. Martin's Press $16.95 (152p) ISBN 978-0-312-09402-7
English author Robert Barnard ( A Fatal Attachment ), writing under any name, can be counted on for robust social satire, meticulous plotting and lively prose. In this historical mystery, set in 1842, he explores skulduggery in the manor house of Elmstead Court, where passions are overripe and death is imminent. As Sir Richard Hudson's illness progresses, his treatment of his teenage son Andrew worsens and his reliance on the odious, scheming manservant Joseph increases. His wife, Lady Hudson, has additional problems, including spats with her willful, feminist daughter Jane and a budding passion for the good doctor who administers Sir Richard's potions. Also on hand are Andrew's ambitious tutor, who has his eye on a local parish seat, and the timid governess, who has her eye on the tutor. Bastable has a rollicking time here, making sly references to Dickens and Bronte, Peel's parliament and the young Queen Victoria, seldom missing a chance to stick it to the ruling classes. The most sympathetic character is resolute Jane, the finest moment when Joseph's true nature is revealed in full Mephistophelean splendor. Diary entries and letters laced through the narrative add much dash to this playful tale. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-7862-0165-5
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