In the fourth of the ‘Palliser’ stories, Trollope follows Phineas Finn’s return to the dangerous world of Westminster politics. When his political rival is murdered, Phineas is thrown under suspicion and eventually finds himself standing trial at the Old Bailey. The situation is complicated by the presence of two women in his life: his old flame Lady Laura, whose estranged husband is determined to destroy Phineas’s reputation, and the wealthy and enigmatic widow, Madame Max.
His beloved wife having died in childbirth, Phineas Finn finds Irish society and his job as a poorhouse inspector dull and unsatisfying, particularly after the excitement of his former career as a Member of Parliament. Back in England, the Whigs are determined to overturn the Tory majority in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Since Finn had once been considered the most promising of the younger set, he is encouraged to run for office again. Bribery, romance, and murder are peppered throughout this Trollope novel.
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