The latest in Anne Perry’s, Thomas and Charlotte Pitt novels, Murder on the Serpentine, begins with a death that occurred under questionable circumstances, an audience with her majesty the aging and ailing Queen Victoria, and a puzzle. A complicated affair that reaches to the highest levels of the monarchy. It is the unraveling of this mystery that leads ultimately, not to ardent passion, or extracurricular immoral activities, but directly to treason.
The Queen is aging and greatly worried about her son, the heir to the throne, Edward. He may be a man in his sixties, but his choices of friends and compatriots leaves the queen rather disquieted. She is concerned that once she is gone, Edward’s friends will lead him astray, and thereby damage the British Empire. She had asked a trusted man to look into Kendrick, her son’s friend. And now, that man who served her so well, has been found dead in unseemly circumstances.
Enter Thomas Pitt. Called to Buckingham Palace, and directly ordered by Victoria to find out the truth behind her investigator’s death. The Queen is convinced that this death is no accident, as she was set to meet with him to learn the truth about Kendrick. There are no such things as coincidences when the honor of the Crown is at stake.
From the elegant salons of the nobility, to the halls of power, to foreign escapades, and the drumbeats of a foreign war, we follow Pitt on his mission. As the new head of the Special Branch he is now privy to issues of national security, and threats to the Crown. Dangerous information abounds that most certainly has gotten some people killed, and endangers Pitt’s life as well.
Meanwhile, Pitt begins his latest mission without being able to share his concerns with Charlotte. Yet she knows something is not right with her husband. She also knows that she wants to help him anyway she can. Finally, she learns a small truth. That is all the information she needed to begin her own quest.
Not one to be sidelined, Charlotte with the help of her sister, reenters society, and learns some awful truths about people who run in protected circles. Secrets that have been hidden away. There are past indiscretions that people keep from view, but that can be used to manipulate and damage a reputation by some very unscrupulous individuals. Events and choices made in inopportune moments can come back to haunt people who live in fear of a destroyed character.
The rules and regulations of Victorian England are laid bare as the reader follows the Pitts as they try to circumnavigate a world of deceit, double cross, and love of country. Even the conclusion comes as a surprise, as a different set of moralities, and ethics, hold sway in order to protect the Court of St. James.
A fun read that will keep you guessing to the very end.
The book is available March 21, 2017.