Monday, November 05, 2007

Belgrave Square, by Anne Perry

(hb; 1992: twelfth book in the Charlotte & Thomas Pitt series)

From the inside flap:

"When an obscure moneylender named William Weems is murdered in the humble Clerkenwell district, there are no mourners and more than a little discreet rejoicing among those whose meager earnings he so mercilessly devoured.

"Only one man seems troubled by the crime -- that respected aristocrat Lord Sholto Byam, who approaches a friend in the police department to ask for help in exonerating himself from any possible connection to the crime. It is an astonishing move, for had he not come forward, the police might have had no reason to suspect that he knew the dead man. So baffling and delicate is the manner that Inspector Pitt, the best man on the force, is summoned to deal with the mystery.

"When he finds in the murdered man's office a list containing the names of some of London's most distinguished gentlemen, Pitt begins to measure the magnitude of the job he has been given. William Weems was no mere common usurer, but a vicious blackmailer, and his sordid death is only the first ripple in a wave of scandal that threatens to engulf not only Lord Byam and his beautiful wife, but many others as well.

"Fortunately, Pitt's clever, well-born wife, Charlotte, has entree to London's best society. At glittering balls and over gossipy tea tables, she observes a world of passion, power, and greed that the police are seldom permitted to see. with her astute assistance, Pitt is finally able to root out the monstrous truth."


A few months after the events of Highgate Rise, the Pitts -- Thomas, in his official capacity; Charlotte, in her unofficial one -- are trying to figure out who killed Weems, a usurer and blackmailer. Of course, there's their usual entourage aiding in their murderer-sussing: Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould, Emily (who's pregnant) and Jack Radley, and Somerset Carlisle (who first appeared in the series in Resurrection Row).

As in the better Pitt entries, Perry puts plenty of variation (in terms of M.O., situations, and killer unveiling) in Belgrave Square. While the killer was, for me, easily spotted, there were enough wild-card elements to offset that minor nit.

Followed by Farriers' Lane.

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