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A Christmas Garland

Cover of A Christmas Garland

A Christmas Garland

Christmas Story Series, Book 10
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"An annual treat," declared The Wall Street Journal of Anne Perry's Victorian-era holiday mysteries. Now she continues this magnificent tradition with A Christmas Garland, a yuletide tale set in exotic...
"An annual treat," declared The Wall Street Journal of Anne Perry's Victorian-era holiday mysteries. Now she continues this magnificent tradition with A Christmas Garland, a yuletide tale set in exotic...
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Description-
  • "An annual treat," declared The Wall Street Journal of Anne Perry's Victorian-era holiday mysteries. Now she continues this magnificent tradition with A Christmas Garland, a yuletide tale set in exotic India. This time the mistress of mystery tells the story of a terrible crime that sets the stage for another: that of knowingly accusing an innocent man of murder.

    The year is 1857, soon after the violent Indian rebellion known as the Siege of Cawnpore. In the British garrison, a guard is killed and an Indian prisoner escapes, which leads to yet more British deaths. Cries for revenge are overwhelming. Despite no witnesses and no evidence against him, a luckless British medical orderly named John Tallis is arrested as an accomplice simply because he was the only soldier unaccounted for when these baffling crimes were committed.

    Though chosen to defend Tallis, young Lieutenant Victor Narraway is not encouraged to try very hard. Narraway's superiors merely want a show trial. But inspired by a soldier's widow and her children, and by his own stubborn faith in justice, Narraway searches for the truth. In an alien world haunted by memories of massacre, he is the accused man's only hope.

    The trial of John Tallis equals the white-knuckle best of Anne Perry's breathtaking courtroom dramas. And thanks to a simple Christmas garland and some brilliant detective work, Narraway perseveres against appalling odds, learning how to find hope within himself--and turn the darkest hour into one full of joy and light.

    PRAISE FOR THE CHRISTMAS NOVELS OF ANNE PERRY

    A Christmas Homecoming

    "Could have been devised by Agatha Christie . . . [Perry is] a modern master."--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    "Vastly entertaining . . . uplifting and thought-provoking by turns."--The Star-Ledger

    A Christmas Odyssey

    "[Perry] writes with detail that invades the senses."--Lincoln Journal Star

    A Christmas Promise

    "Poignant . . . should be on the Christmas stocking list of anyone who likes a sniffle of nostalgia."--The Washington Times

    A Christmas Grace

    "[A] heartwarming, if crime-tinged, complement to the holiday season."--Booklist

    A Christmas Beginning

    "Intriguing . . . Perry's use of period detail is, as always, strong and evocative."--The Seattle Times

    From the Hardcover edition.

 
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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    But this year of 1857 was different. The fire of mutiny had scorched across the land, touching everything with death.

    He came to the outer door of one of the least-damaged parts of the barracks and knocked. Immediately it was opened and he stepped inside. Oil lamps sent a warming yellow light over the battered walls and the few remnants of the once-secure occupation, as they had been before the siege and then its relief. There was little furniture left whole: a bullet-scarred desk, three chairs that had seen better days, a bookcase and several cupboards, one with only half a door.

    Colonel Latimer was standing in the middle of the room. He was a tall and spare man well into his forties; a dozen Indian summers had burned his skin brown, but there was little color beneath it to alleviate the weariness and the marks of exhaustion. He regarded the twenty-year-old lieutenant in front of him with something like an apologetic look.

    "I have an unpleasant duty for you, Narraway," he said quietly. "It must be done, and done well. You're new to this regiment, but you have an excellent record. You are the right man for this job."

    Narraway felt a chill, in spite of the mild evening. His father had purchased a commission for him, and he had served a brief training in England before being sent out to India. He had arrived a year ago, just before the issue of the fateful cartridges at Dum Dum in January, which later in the spring had erupted in mutiny. The rumor had been that the bullets were coated with animal grease, in the part required to be bitten into in order to open the cartridge for use. The Hindus had been told it was beef fat. Cows were sacred, and to kill one was blasphemy. To put cow fat to the lips was damnation. The Muslims had been told it was pork fat, and to them, the pig was an unclean animal. To put that grease to your lips would damn your soul, although for an entirely different reason.

    Of course, that was not the only cause of the mutiny by hundreds of thousands of Indians against the rule of a few thousand Englishmen employed by the East India Company. The reasons were more complex, far more deeply rooted in the social inequities and the cultural offenses of a foreign rule. The bullets had merely been the spark that had ignited the fire.

    Also it was true, as far as Narraway could gather, that the mutiny was far from universal. It was violent and terrible only in small parts of the country. Thousands of miles remained untouched by it, lying peaceful, if a little uneasy, under the winter sun. But the province of Sind on the Hindustan plains had seen much of the very worst of it, Cawnpore and Lucknow in particular.

    General Colin Campbell, a hero from the recent war in the Crimea, had fought to relieve the siege at Luck­now. A week ago he and his men had defeated 25,000 rebels here at Cawnpore. Was it the beginning of a turning of the tide? Or just a glimmer of light that would not last?

    Narraway stood to attention, breathing deeply to calm himself. Why had he come to Latimer's notice?

    "Yes, sir," he said between his teeth.

    Latimer smiled bleakly. There was no light in his face, no warmth of approval. "You will be aware of the recent escape of the prisoner Dhuleep Singh," he went on. "And that his guard, Chuttur Singh, was hacked to death in the course of Dhuleep's escape?"

    Narraway's mouth was dry. Of course he knew it; everyone in the Cawnpore station knew it.

    "Yes, sir," he said obediently, forcing the words out.

    "It has been investigated." Latimer's jaw was tight, and a small muscle jumped in his temple. "We know Dhuleep Singh had privileged information regarding troop...

About the Author-
  • Anne Perry is the bestselling author of nine earlier holiday novels--A Christmas Homecoming, A Christmas Odyssey, A Christmas Promise, A Christmas Grace, A Christmas Journey, A Christmas Visitor, A Christmas Guest, A Christmas Secret, and A Christmas Beginning--as well as the William Monk series and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series set in Victorian England, five World War I novels, and a work of historical fiction, The Sheen on the Silk. Anne Perry lives in Scotland.

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    Random House Publishing Group
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Anne Perry
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