Monday, January 08, 2007

Bluegate Fields, by Anne Perry

(hb; 1984: sixth book in the Charlotte & Thomas Pitt series)


1886. When the body of Arthur Waybourne, a sixteen-year old syphlitic sodomized well-to-do boy, is discovered in the sewer-slums of Bluegate Fields, Thomas Pitt is called in to investigate. As the scandal grows, and key clues are concealed by others -- family members fearing further scandal, and/or the killer himself -- Pitt finds himself in treacherous social waters that my end his career.

Then Pitt gets a break: Arthur's unpopular Latin tutor, Maurice Jerome, is arrested for the double crime (homosexual acts are illegal), tried and sentenced to be hanged in three weeks.

But the evidence doesn't add up. Thomas and his wife, Charlotte, both disturbed by the lack of solid facts, investigate separately -- Charlotte, with the help of her socially-adept sister Emily Ashworth, and their great-aunt Vespasia Cummings-Gould (aka Aunt Vespasia), whose observance of social etiquette masks her sharp memory regarding old scandals.

All of this happens nine months after the occurrences of Rutland Place. Jemima Pitt, Charlotte and Thomas's daughter, is two and a half. Daniel, three months old, is the newest addition to the Pitt family. And telephones are beginning to appear in the homes of the select rich.

Wonderful book, this. Perry rearranges her story structure and the nature of Waybourne's murder, which breathes further life into this consistently intriguing mystery series. While I spotted the villain straight away, it wasn't through any sharp-eyed reading; it was through bias. (I didn't like the character, so I wanted it to be that character.)

So check it out. Heck, check out the whole series! Be warned -- there are twenty-three books in it.

Followed by Death in the Devil's Acre

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