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LONG SPOON LANE
By Anne Perry
Ballantine Books, April 2005 ($25.95)
Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel
In the summer of 1893 anarchists have Londoners living in fear. Thomas Pitt, ousted from the Metropolitan Police because of his success in defeating some of the aims of the Inner Circle, a secret society with membership among the high and mighty, is now a member of the Special Branch. This organization was created originally to deal with the Irish Fenians and is now involved with all threats to the safety of the country: Irish seeking Home Rule, revolutionaries striving to overthrow the government, the throne, or law and order in general.
Pitt's boss, Victor Narraway, summons Pitt to a working class district after receiving a tip that one of the buildings will be bombed. While most of the occupants are evacuated safely, several homes are destroyed. The police give chase to the bombers and trap them in a dwelling on Long Spoon Lane, where a gun battle ensues. When the smoke clears, two of the anarchists are in custody, one escapes, and one, the son of a member of parliament, is dead, apparently shot by someone in the room. The men in custody insist that their leader, Magnus Landsborough, was killed by a policeman, and allege that the bombing on Myrdle Street was aimed at exposing rampant police corruption. Pitt decides to investigate their claims, with the assistance of Sgt. Tellman, one of the few people on the police force that he is able to trust. Not surprisingly, his old nemesis, Inspector Wetron, now head of the Metropolitan Police and a high-ranking member of the Inner Circle, is deeply involved in an intricate plot to stir up trouble and exploit public fear in order to push a bill through Parliament that would greatly increase his power. The bill would provide for the arming of the police force to a much greater degree, allow search and seizure for any or no cause at all, and, horror of horrors, allow the police to interrogate servants without their masters' knowledge. Charlotte Pitt, a member of the aristocracy before she married a mere policeman, and her friend Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould, are especially shocked at this last provision, fearing that servants with a grudge could incriminate their employers or resort to blackmail.
In order to stop Wetron's nefarious plot Pitt has to join forces with Charles Voisey, a bitter enemy who has his own reasons for wanting to defeat Wetron. Charlotte and Vespasia grudgingly go along with this alliance, even though Voisey came close to killing Pitt's family in a previous encounter and actually did kill a dear friend of Vespasia's.
This was not my favorite Thomas and Charlotte Pitt novel. While the subject is of historic interest, I found much of the book slow-going, the plot very complex and at times confusing. While there are clear parallels between the bill in Parliament and the Patriot Act, I found the emphasis on the upper class fear of what their servants might say to the police behind closed doors kind of silly. Still, fans of the series will want to read this installment.
We have reviews of other Anne Perry books. If you would like to read those reviews please click on the title(s) below.
A BREACH OF PROMISE by Anne Perry
BEDFORD SQUARE by Anne Perry
THE SILENT CRY by Anne Perry
THE TWISTED ROOT by Anne Perry
SOUTHAMPTON ROW by Anne Perry
For a list of titles by this author, please click here.
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