[These notes were made in 1986; I read this in the Routledge, 1898 edition:]. One of the earliest of Ainsworth's productions, and - in its genre, that of the Radcliffean Romance - certainly one of his best. Mind you, it's a Radcliffean romance with a distinctly Ainsworthian twist, since Dick Turpin plays a major part in the action. His only concession to the prevailing gloom-and-shivers atmosphere is to conceal his identity for a while, and his attitude to the inevitable highwayman's end, a cheery bravado, is in distinct contrast to the horror of death evinced by other characters. The main characters - a lucky hero and a doomed one - are not only brothers but entwined in an amazingly contorted set of family relationships, family secrets and family crimes for generations past - there being a curse of wife-murder on the whole lot of them. The book opens spectacularly enough with a charnel-house scene, during which Luke Rookwood, our doomed hero, takes to carrying around his dead mother's hand! Luke is eventually caught between a fair lady (Eleanor) and a dark lady (a gypsy named Sybil), and the dark lady dies - and so does Luke, by kissing a poisoned lock of her hair! Ranulph, the 'good' hero, ends up with Eleanor, the curse of the house apparently removed, and all of his pesky blood-relatives conveniently removed from the scene by melodramatic deaths. I greatly enjoyed this one - it was fun. The highwayman's cant was a little tedious, but otherwise the thing was very well-written.