Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Farriers' Lane, by Anne Perry

(pb; 1993: thirteenth book in the Charlotte & Thomas Pitt series)

From the back cover:

"When Mr. Justice Stafford, a distinguished judge in the court of appeals, falls ill and dies of opium poisoning, his shocking demise resurrects on of the most sensational cases ever to inflame England: the murder five years before of Kingsley Blaine and the crucifixion of his body against a door in Farriers' Lane. Amid the public hysteria for revenge, the police had arrested a Jewish actor, who was soon condemned to hang.

"Police Inspector Thomas Pitt, investigating Stafford's death, is drawn into the Farriers' Lane murder as well, for it appears that Stafford may have been about to reopen the case. He receives curiously little help from his colleagues on the force, but his wife, Charlotte, gleans from her social engagements startling insights into the women in both cases. And slowly both Thomas and Charlotte begin to reach for the same sinister and deeply dangerous truth..."

Review:

The Pitts' current case is crazy-quilted with divergent elements: possible miscarriage(s) of justice, anti-Semitism and good intentions gone awry. So it's especially good that Charlotte's mother, Caroline Ellison (who's enamored with one of the suspects), Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould (Charlotte's great-aunt by marriage), and the Pitts' maid, Gracie (loyal, streetwise and stubborn), are there to lend their help in solving the murders. (Emily and Jack Radley, Charlotte's sister and brother-in-law, and series regulars, are "in the west country away from the social bustle of London," where Emily is close to giving birth to her second child, the Radleys' first one together.)

The murders -- and their motivations -- are particularly ugly this time out. The twists are envy-inducing, the characters (several of whom have clear potential to join the ranks of other series-regular characters in future books) are interesting and worth remembering, the red herrings aren't obvious, and the story-plotting, especially in the last fifty pages, is tension-filled and relevant to our current times.

Another charming, read-worthy entry in the Pitt series, followed by The Hyde Park Headsman.

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