A Dangerous Fortune By Ken Follett.
A shocking secret behind a young boy's death leads to three generations of treachery in this absorbing drama of wealth, passion and revenge, set amid the riches and decadence of Victorian England.
By the 1800's, the Pilastars are one of the world's greatest banking families, with connections that reach from the city of London to far-fetched colonies. However, as the family grow ever richer in the shadow of oppression and tragedy, their very future is threatened by the self-same ambition and greed that first earned them their fortune.
Covering a period of 26 years, this is a real thriller of a saga, peopled with wonderful, though on the whole, flawed through to down-right unpleasant, characters.
There are the three privileged boys who are involved in the original events - only son and heir to the Pilaster banking dynasty, Edward, who is a weak, rather sad individual, seemingly incapable of breaking loose from his mother's ties, his cousin, Hugh and their 'friends' Miguel 'Micky' Miranda (possibly one of the most unpleasant characters I have encountered in a long while) and, the rather naive, Antonia 'Toni' Silva.
However it is the women of the novel who are really interesting. On the whole, so much stronger then their male counterparts - they are Maisie who at 11 years old runs away to find herself as a performer in a circus only to find herself, as an adult, living a totally different lifestyle that, once again, sees her involved with the Pilaster family. Then, there is the evil and, somehow, desperately lonely, Augusta who much of the story centres on in one way or another.
A wonderful read, this novel has it all - murder, passion, romance and high society as well as a real insight into how life was lived by the 'have' and 'have not's' of the eighteen hundreds.
MY RATING: 5 out of a possible 5.