Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Traitors Gate, by Anne Perry

(hb; 1995: fifteenth book in the Charlotte & Thomas Pitt series)

"...Police Superintendent Thomas Pitt is charged with investigating nothing less than a matter of treason. Someone in the Colonial Office is passing information to Germany about England's African strategy, and the traitor can only be one of a half dozen distinguished public servants. At the same time, Pitt is quietly looking into the sudden, tragic death of his childhood mentor, Sir Arthur Desmond, whose demise, an inquest has concluded, was due to an accidental overdose of laudanum.

"Pitt's own verdict is that Sir Arthur has been murdered, and that the crime is connected in some way to the treachery in the Colonial Office. He is certain that the link is a clandestine organization called the Inner Circle that, beneath the cloak of anonymous charitable benevolence, wields a sinister secret power over public affairs and private lives. But despite the apparent cooperation of great men in government, he makes little progress -- until news of a second sensational murder reverberates through London's most elegant drawing rooms.

"In the small hours of a May morning, a Thames waterman finds the strangled body of an aristocratic society beauty floating nearly lonely Traitors Gate. Only then do hard-pressed Pitt and his clever wife, Charlotte, begin to untangle the threads of passion and intrigue, to see clearly the pattern of tragedy and frightening evil that Pitt must deal with, at the risk of his career -- and his life."

Review:

The fifteenth Pitt mystery shows Pitt dealing with three professional -- and life-threatening -- problems: discovering the Foreign Office traitor who's selling state secrets to the Germans; clearing the name of his mentor, Sir Arthur Desmond, who was probably poisoned with laudanum in gentlemen's club; and unmasking the killer of a well-liked, lovely Society wife -- all of these dilemmas are likely tied to the Inner Circle (a ruthless secret society whose existence was first revealed in Belgrave Square), and may center around one killer.

Traitors Gate focuses more on Thomas Pitt, as he goes into places that Charlotte and their friends and family can't go -- that's not to say Charlotte, along with series regular Vespasia Cumming-Gould, and even Eustace March (Emily Radley's easily-scandalized, semi-blustery great-uncle by her first marriage) don't help, it's just that their case-pivotal roles in this deadly drama are limited this time out.

The killer(s) is/are not easily sussed out, there are some surprising twists scattered throughout, and the ending, as usual, is superbly rendered.

Another excellent read from Perry. Followed by Pentecost Alley.

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