by Julie HaleDecember, 2004
Mr. Timothy: A Novel
In this charming historical mystery, Bayard puts a fresh spin on the classic tale A Christmas Carol by portraying Tiny Tim as a grown man living in London. Charles Dickens' delicate boy-hero has, in the hands of Bayard, matured into Timothy Cratchit, a robust 23-year-old whose home is a whorehouse and whose job it is to teach the establishment's madam to read. During the Christmas season of 1860, Timothy, tormented by the memory of his dead father and fighting to overcome his reliance on the financial bounty of Ebenezer Scrooge, becomes embroiled in a murder mystery. When the bodies of two 10-year-old girls are discovered one in an alley, the other in the Thames River a ripple passes through the lower levels of London society. The girls have been cruelly branded with the letter "G," adding a gruesome twist to the crime. Struggling to protect a young urchin named Philomela from a similar fate, Timothy finds himself up against a devious killer. After Philomela is abducted, Timothy, with the aid of a street-smart young singer named Colin the Melodious, attempts to rescue her, discovering along the way that there are more dark crimes afoot in the city than he ever imagined. Building upon elements of Dickens' traditional story, Bayard has constructed a classic a vivid, colorful portrait of Victorian London.
A reading group guide is available online.