so on the one hand, it’s like COME ON, PALLISER!! FIT MORE WORDS IN THERE!!
and on the other hand, it is a perfectly good book that shows his facility with historical fiction and an unreliable narrator who keeps the secrets from the reader by going off half-cocked in about eighteen different directions as he tries to figure out what is going on through an opium haze complicated by a handful of unrelated personality disorders.
it’s a sea full of red herrings.
palliser gets another chance to show off his knowledge of victorian english estate law, and this time he gets to work a little blue, all in the guise of just being charles palliser, the man who found this manuscript and is simply a disinterested presenter of historical artifacts, not the man who wrote these dirty violent bits.
and while this does fall into my “books that could have been completely avoided if its characters had about three conversations” pet peeve, it is a very fast-paced book that gives the reader enough “oh, i know what is going on” moments to feel puffed-up with confident pride in their deduction-skills, but then throws on so many layers of additional confusion/misinterpretation/new complications that after a while, the reader is uncertain what they have been told and what they thought they had figured out all by themselves. which in a book this short, is really something.
unreliable narrator, old crumbling house in the middle of nowhere, sudden poverty, and murrrderrrrr…
all good things.