Kept

By D. J. Taylor
(HarperCollins, Hardcover, 9780061146084, 480pp.)

Publication Date: May 1, 2007

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Description

Madness, greed, love, obsession, Machiavellian plotting, and a great train robbery, in a captivating Victorian mystery about the extreme and curious things men do to get--and keep--what they want

August 1863. Henry Ireland, a failed landowner, dies unexpectedly in a riding accident, leaving a highly strung young widow. Not far away lives Ireland's friend James Dixey, a celebrated naturalist who collects strange trophies--a stuffed bear, a pet mouse, and a wolf that he keeps caged in the grounds of his decaying house, lost in the fog on the edge of the fens.

The poachers, Dewar and Dunbar, with their cargo of pilfered eggs; Esther the observant kitchen maid, pining to be reunited with her vanished admirer; the ancient lawyer Mr. Crabbe, made careless by snobbery; John Carstairs, in search of his cousin, the elusive widow; an enigmatic debt-collector, busily plotting an audacious robbery; various lowlife henchmen; a beady-eyed country curate who sees more than he should; and Captain McTurk of Scotland Yard, patiently investigating the circumstances of Mr. Ireland's death and many other things besides--all are drawn into a net of intrigue with wide and sinister implications.

Ranging from the loch-sides of Scotland to the slums of Clerkenwell, from the gentlemen's clubs of St. James's to the Yukon wilds, Kept is a gorgeously intricate novel about the urge to possess, at once a gripping investigation of some of the secret chambers of the human heart and a dazzling reinvention of Victorian life and passions.

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