Thursday, August 31, 2006

Resurrection Row, by Anne Perry

(hb; 1981: fourth book in the Charlotte & Thomas Pitt series)

From the inside flap:

“Accompanying his wife home from Gilbert and Sullivan's latest diversion, Inspector Pitt makes the exceedingly unpleasant discovery of the body of a cabbie – a discovery made even more unpleasant by the fact that the man has been buried and unearthed, and that he is not after all a cabbie, but apparently one Lord Augustus Fitzroy-Hammond Resurof number 12 Gadstone Park, London. The outrage is kept as quiet as possible, and the peer is reburied soon afterward.

“Yet when, beyond all imagination, the man is found unearthed again, Pitt is forced to reconsider the course of his investigation. Who would continue this senseless atrocity, and for what reason? As the gruesome series of grave-robbings takes a new and even more macabre turn, Pitt is brought time and time again back to Gadstone Park, an elegant street that begins to reveal ever clearer glimpses of a most inelegant secret.”

Review:

Worthy fourth entry in the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mystery series. Author Perry injects enough plot and character variations in Resurrection Row to set it apart from earlier Pitt novels. The tone is lighter than the first three books. There's also less emphasis on the ongoing “hypocritical rich folks hiding secrets” element that makes up the thematic backbone of the series.

Not only that, Emily and George Ashworth, Charlotte's sister and brother-in-law, are barely mentioned in Resurrection Row, aside from one character's noting of their son, Edward, who was born less than a year before – shortly after the finish of the last Pitt mystery, Paragon Walk.

George's Great-Aunt Vespasia, a seventy-year old upper class woman with few pretensions and a long memory regarding her less-forthright neighbors, fills the character void left by Emily and George. Vespasia, introduced in Paragon Walk, was a notable character in that book, but in Resurrection Row, she's essential to the plot.

Another past character, Dominic Corde, Charlotte's widowman ex-brother-in-law (from The Cater Street Hangman), reappears. Corde, who rattles Thomas (given Charlotte's past, schoolgirl infatuation with Corde), provides an additional, welcome tension to the plot.

The true villains of the book – whom may or may not have anything to do with the grave-robbings – are easily spotted, but it was more a matter of form on my part, not a failure of cleverness on author Perry's.

Followed by Rutland Place.

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