White Stone Day

Originally published: 2005

"I mark this day most especially with a White Stone."

---Lewis Carroll, The Diaries of Lewis Carroll

Edmund Whitty, a London newspaper correspondent who can usually be counted upon for crisp and lurid copy, has fallen upon lean times. After his triumphant exposé of a notorious serial killer, he has inexplicably lost his knack for sensational reporting. Broke and desperate, he seizes upon a generous offer from a mysterious American to discredit a quack psychic. But how, he ends up wondering uneasily, does the psychic know so much about a scandal involving Whitty's late brother?

When the psychic is brutally murdered, Whitty finds himself accused of the crime and thrown into Milbank prison, the most bizarre institution of its kind in England. Help comes unexpectedly from "the Captain," a gangster not known for charity work. To save his own skin, Whitty must find the men responsible for the disappearance of the Captain's young niece, Eliza.

Whitty's search takes him to Oxford, where he meets the brilliant and eccentric Reverend William Boltbyn, a renowned children's author who delights in playing croquet, devising elaborate stories, and taking artistic photographs of little girls. There he uncovers a looking-glass world, the dark side of Victoriana, and the murder of innocence.

ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0312282931

ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0312282936

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Errie Olde England is foggy, dirty, thug-and-crime-ridden. Gray’s journalist hero spends his second outing (The Fiend in Human, 2003) trying hard to keep from being murdered in it. Edmond Whitty is a scandal-sheet hack, and he knows it. But impecunious second sons with limited earning power despite having been over-educated at Eton and Oxford dip into whatever shillings they can find. These days Whitty—witty indeed, in a mordant way, and handsome enough to be catnip to the ladies—faces more trouble than usual, even in his boozy life on the edge. A certain underworld boss named the Captain holds his gambling marker to the tune of £500. He can avoid dire physical consequences, the Captain informs him, if he’ll harness his well-known investigative talents and locate the Captain’s kidnapped niece. Whitty signs on but soon has reason to wish he’d shipped for America. In short order, he’s framed, jailed, repeatedly beaten and nearly hanged (twice). On the other hand, he meets a fictionalized version of Lewis Carroll and the delightfully Alice-like child he adores. In the end, undeserving though Whitty clearly is, he manages once again to beat the odds, nail his villain and come up smiling in Plant’s Inn, a favored watering hole for ink-stained wretches.

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