'Mr. Tallent's Ghost' is an amusing tale about an eccentric writer who likes to read his appalling and tedious novels aloud to his relatives...or indeed anyone who will listen. He persuades a lawyer to draw up a will devoting his entire fortune to funding the publication of his writing. Shortly after this, news of Mr. Tallent's death arrives. The disinherited relations dispute the will vigorously, and soon after this, the ghost of Mr. Tallent begins to haunt the relatives and the executor.
Set in rural Shropshire shortly after the Napoleonic Wars, Precious Bane is narrated by the central character, Prue Sarn, whose life is blighted by having a harelip. Only the weaver, Kester Woodseaves, perceives the beauty of her character, but Prue cannot believe herself worthy of him. Her brother Gideon is overridingly ambitious to attain wealth and power, regardless of who suffers while he does so.
When young heiress Vivian Seymour is found shot to death, corporate attorney Gail Brevard, who's never before handled a criminal matter, is suddenly assigned the case by the partners in her firm. She realizes immediately that no one - not her superiors, not the judge, not the Prosecuting Attorney (her old nemesis, Turner Redland), not the movers and shakers of society - want her to win. She's been set up to lose! The 19-year-old man charged with the murder, Damon Powell, is entrapped by a web of circumstantial evidence.
Born at the time of Waterloo in the wild countryside of Shropshire, England, Prudence Sarn is a passionate girl, cursed with a harelip - her “precious bane”. She is cursed for it, too, by the superstitious people among whom she lives. Prue loves two things: the remote countryside of her birthplace and, hopelessly, Kester Woodseaves, the weaver. The tale of how Kester gradually discerns Prue’s true beauty is set against the tragic drama of Prue’s brother, Gideon, a man who is out of harmony with the natural world and whose recklessness may ensnare them all in tragedy.