24 June 2009

Ask Alice

by D J Taylor

Random House Australia. Mystery. Paperback rrp $34.95

Set from 1904 through to 1936, Ask Alice is the story of an American woman who rises from the ranks of the lower middle-class system to become the toast of English society. When Alice sets off on a train ride to live with her aunt and uncle, she never reaches her destination. Instead she makes a life-changing decision to trust a man she has only just met. This eventually leads Alice over the ocean to London where she becomes a celebrated stage actress and marries a wealthy landowner.

Ralph is a young boy growing up in the English countryside. He has no parents that he knows of and is brought up by Mrs Custance. When she finally retires she sends Ralph to live with her eccentric brother, Alfred. Ralph and Alfred are well suited together. As Ralph grows older, Alfred finally makes his fortune and they move into the upper level of London society.

Alice’s life is now a privileged one. Society parties, dinners and balls keep Alice busy after her husband dies. Everything is neat and orderly until a man from her past decides to pay her a visit.

What does he want? Has he got something to use against Alice? When a murder is committed at Alice’s country house during a party, Ralph is there as a guest. What connection do they have?

Ask Alice is a novel of lies, betrayals, deceit, love and murder. Taylor has written a story that will keep you turning the pages. His descriptions of the times and the people are so detailed that you will easily feel that you are a part of the rich narrative fabric.


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