The fourth novel in Anthony Trollope's Palliser series returns the reader to the lucky Irishman Phineas Finn. Newly widowed, he decides to plunge back into politics by accepting an offer to run for a seat in the House of Commons. Yet Finn's luck soon deserts him, as his re entry is not rewarded with office and the income he needs to survive. Moreover, he suffers from the attacks of two new enemies --and he soon finds himself on trial for the most heinous of crimes.
One of Trollope's great strengths as a writer is his ability to build a world consisting of a diverse array of characters, and that strength is on display here. Nearly the full case from his previous novels in the series makes an appearance, even if a couple of them feel shoehorned in. Yet Trollope's effort to derive some drama from putting his central character on trial doesn't work as well as it should. Perhaps aware of his limitations, he avoids any real mystery as to the perpetrator of the crime for which his central character stands trial, and it's resolution seems more melodramatic than earned. Still, for all its faults and the padding of the last hundred pages it is still an enjoyable novel, one that offers more of the continuing events of Trollope's cast of political adventurers and social butterflies.