Saturday, November 16, 2013

Rustication, by Charles Palliser

Charles Palliser, Rustication. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013. 323 pages. ISBN 9780393088724.

I found this book to be compulsively readable. The main character, Richard, has been kicked out of Cambridge for opium use and debts. He arrives home for the Christmas holidays to find his family in difficult circumstances due to a scandal surrounding his father's dismissal from his life's work and his subsequent death. Richard behaves erratically, and draws suspicions upon himself when anonymous letters begin to appear and violent crimes against animals are discovered.

The book is written in the form of a journal, so the reader is left wondering throughout whether Richard is responsible for these crimes. In the meantime, Richard is ostensibly trying to find the culprit, his suspicions falling on one neighbor after another. The reader will be left guessing until the end, and even then, one wonders about the conclusion.

This is an excellent mystery; I recommend it to anyone who likes atmospheric, gothic-style mysteries.

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