No Graves as Yet: A Novel of WWI
Hardcover, Audio, CD
Reviewed by Nina de Angeli
he first of a planned five titles in a new series by Anne Perry has to be a major event for historical mystery fans. Set in the tense prewar summer of 1914,
No Graves As Yet
breaks new ground for the queen of Victorian mysteries. Brothers Joseph and Matthew Reavley are both traumatized by the sudden death of their beloved parents in an auto accident that may have been murder.
atthew, a British intelligence officer, investigates a mysterious message about an international conspiracy he received from their father just before his death. Joseph, an unworldly Anglican minister and Cambridge don, is already grieving for the recent death of his young wife, and suffers another shock when one of his best students is shot in his room at the university. The victim, Sebastian, had been brilliant, charismatic, and handsome, seemingly without enemies. Joseph feels morally obligated to untangle the family secrets and student-faculty relationships that may offer clues to Sebastian's murder. These two plots initially seem unrelated but eventually converge.
nne Perry's own family appears to have inspired this story. She dedicates the book to her grandfather, also named Joseph Reavley, who served as a British Army chaplain in World War I. The fictional Joseph is tormented by spiritual doubts and moral dilemmas. He discusses theology and politics at length with his students and colleagues. Meanwhile the threatening clouds of war hang over Europe in the wake of the assassination of an Austrian Archduke in the Balkans. Joseph maintains that England can remain uninvolved even if war breaks out, and anyway England has enough problems with the Irish nationalist movement.
lthough secondary characters include a Reavley sister, the victim's mother, and the lovely wife of the college dean, I did miss the strong female characters in Perry's Victorian series books, someone equivalent to Hester Latterly or Charlotte Pitt. The final resolution of the mystery seems hasty and incomplete, overshadowed by the outbreak of war. However, the privileged academic atmosphere of prewar Cambridge, about to be shattered forever by war, is beautifully evoked by Perry's lyrical prose and careful research.
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