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By Anne Perry

Ballantine, 1999 (HC) April, 2000 (PB)

Reviewed by J. Ashley (6/2000)

This book, a William Pitt mystery, begins when Pitt is summoned to the scene of a death not far from his home. On the front steps of an upper-class house in Bedford Square lies a man, unidentified, in worn clothes, but very dead. In his pocket is found a valuable snuffbox that proves to belong to the owner of the house, Brandon Ballantyne, a gentleman Pitt and Charlotte have encountered in two previous novels.

Charlotte, learning of the death, goes to visit the Ballantynes, but finds herself unwelcome by the lady of the house. She senses Ballantyne's fear and, with her maid, Gracie, is drawn into the investigation. She and Pitt find themselves matched against the highest and lowest of London society, from innocents they must protect to corrupt dregs of Victorian London.

As usual, I find Anne Perry's novels slow-moving and overly dark, but her fans will appreciate once more her deep characterization and vivid evocation of late Victorian life. Pitt and Charlotte are, as usual, a well-matched team, and Charlotte's juxtaposition of her upper class past life and present position as policeman's wife, which both assists and hinders her, adds an interesting perspective.

A good read for fans of Anne Perry's previous Charlotte and William Pitt mysteries.

Other titles by this author that have been reviewed include: A BREACH OF PROMISE, THE TWISTED ROOT, and THE SILENT CRY which all feature the series character, William Monk.

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