Redux. It sounds like a sequel, and it is, but Anthony Trollope's Phineas Redux is also a stand-alone murder mystery. It is the story of Phineas' further adventures in the parliamentary circles of London society, a story begun in Phineas Finn. He is back from Ireland and, as he always does, finds a seat that won't cost him much money, which is fortunate because he doesn't have much money.
But he has good friends. His landlady, Mrs Bunch, and her husband are glad to see him back in lodgings and his old legal mentor Mr Low (who has now "taken silk" and is in Parliament) and his wife welcome him back, though with their usual warnings that he should really be practicing law. Lord Chiltern and his wife are particularly fond of Phineas and he of them. Lady Laura Kennedy is out of the country but she remains a good, if only epistolary, friend. The Duchess of Omnium as she now is and the political men around her husband, the duke, are pleased to see him again, as is his old friend, Mme Max Goesler.
Phineas feels comfortable back in the world of clubs and hunting and visits to country houses. He has enough money from a small legacy to make his way for a couple of years but he needs eventually to find a position like his old one where he worked for Lord Cantrip in the Colonial Office.
But that doesn't happen, not right away at least, because Phineas finds himself in a spot of trouble when a colleague who has taken a dislike to him and whom Phineas isn't all that fold of either, turns up dead and the evidence points to Phineas. We, the reader, know that he is incapable of murder and so are some of his friends. But some are willing to wait to see what the trial reveals and this neutrality on the part of men he considered close breaks Phineas' heart.
This is Trollope so I am not letting any cats out of any bags when I tell you Phineas is found not guilty, but it's what happens after his aquittal that will set the course of the rest of his life. Will he ever be able to break out of the depression into which he has sunk? Will he slink back to Ireland in defeat? Is his parliamentary career over forever? Will he and Lady Laura be able to resume their friendship or perhaps move it along to something more? Will he and Madame Goesler continue to feel uncomfortable when they meet one another? Will Phineas finally find a wife?
Phineas Redux is the fourth novel in Anthony Trollop's roman-fleuve, The Palliser Novels, which began publication in book form in 1865 and finished in 1880. Phineas Finn was the second in the series and appeared in book form in 1869 after first running as a magazine serial for more than a year as did most of Trollope's novels. Phineas Redux was published in 1874 and it picks up the life of Phineas a couple of years after the first novel finishes. Here's the list of the Palliser novels:
- Can You Forgive Her? (1865)
- Phineas Finn (1869)
- The Eustace Diamonds (1873)
- Phineas Redux (1874)
- The Prime Minister (1876)
- The Duke's Children (1880)