What if? The classic idea of speculating about unknown histories has been in vogue now for many years with evryone from Laurel and Hardy to Elizabeth I getting the factionalization treatment. James Tully's book lifts the genre above the usual, badly researched level and offers us an interesting and, yes, eclectic solution to the four, apparently premature deaths of Branwell, Anne, Emily and Charlotte Bronte. The evidence is rich and cleverly connected, is bound to upset many Bronte scholars and will infuriate the more romantically inclined. Butit also offers much to tip the balance in favour of the conspiracy theorists. Envy of fame, jealousy of passion and good old fashioned greed combine to set sister against sister, brother in law against sister in law and husband against wife. Unlike 'Wuthering Heights', 'Jane Eyre' or 'Agnes Grey' there are no heroes or heroines here - all the literary Brontes, and Charlotte's huband, are guilty of some crime or other. For some it is the lesser crime of innocence but with others, according to Mr Tully, the crimes were far more serious. I approached this book expecting it to be a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek view of the Brontes but as I progressed the evidence unearthed by Mr Tully became more and more reasonable and I concluded by agreeing that murder on such a scale would have been possible 150 years ago. We seem to think that we have the monopoly on serial murders in the late twentieth century with the likes of Sutcliff, West and Shipman and yet there is strong evidence in many records to contradict this belief. James Tully's theories and speculations may seem far-fetched to some but in context they become more real the further you explore them and, more importantly, the less you rely on the safe and sanctified version of life at The Parsonage. There is meat on the bones presented in this book!