Every year Anne Perry has been writing a novella featuring characters from her Monk or Pitt novels and placing the characters in a situation to help around Christmas time. They are quick reads and for those of us who are long time Perry fans, look forward to who she will feature in these novellas.
A Christmas Odyssey features lesser but important characters from the William Monk series.
Mrs. Perry's knowledge of the Victorian Era is amazing - from the young Victoria to the ending of the era, and she describes the culture perfectly.
There were the noblemen, the gentry, the good families, the servants, then the lesser of the people of London - England's sordid underground, where just about everything evil from drugs to perverted behavior is the norm.
A dear friend of Henry Rathbone, James Wentworth, has asked Rathbone to help him find Wentworth's son, Lucien, who has fallen into the darkness of opium dens, and loose women, especially Sadie. At his wits' end, the desparate father appeals to another father (Rathbone is Sir Oliver Rathbone's father in the Monk series) for help.
Sir Oliver had at one time been in love with Hester Latterly, who eventually married William Monk. She was a nurse under Florence Nightengale and had been a private nurse, and eventually created a type of hospital to serve women of any repute, but mostly those of the street. He initially goes to talk to her at her clinic, but Squeaky Robinson, once pimp, now manager of the clinic, interceeds and tells him he can help Rathbone better than Hester and after telling Hester he'd be gone a few days, they go off to find Lucien in the dregs of London.
They also draft a slum doctor Crow, who also ministers to the common folk. The three go into the nastiest parts of London to find Lucien.
In Mrs. Perry's books, you see the total picture of the society, and how far some folks, who like Squeaky can rise from the darkness to helping people and working with good folks, or gentry, once tasted the dark side can fall.
It is a quick read and the descriptions are as dark as the underground truly was, but is beautifully written and maintains the dignity Mrs. Perry writes about the era.
Another excellent offering from the wonderful Anne Perry.
A Christmas Odyssey by Anne Perry, ISBN: 978-0-345-51858-3, Ballantine Books, Review by ellen george