When Henry Ireland dies unexpectedly from what appears to be a riding accident in August 1863, the failed landowner leaves behind little save his high-strung young widow, Isabel—who somehow ends up in the home of Ireland's friend James Dixey. A celebrated naturalist, Dixey collects strange trophies in his secluded, decaying manse and has questionable associations with rather unsavory characters—including a pair of thuggish poachers named Dewar and Dunbar. Dixey's precocious, inquisitive young servant, Esther, cannot turn a blind eye to the suspicious activities surrounding her. While in the crime-ridden streets of London, a determined captain of Scotland Yard follows the threads that may well link a daring train robbery to the disappearance of a disturbed heiress as well as to the possible murder of Henry Ireland.
D. J. Taylor's Kept is a gorgeously intricate, dazzling reinvention of Victorian life and passions that is also a riveting investigation into some of the darkest, most secret chambers of the human heart.