The body of a mutilated prostitute has been discovered in a linen closet at Buckingham Palace. Queen Victoria is away, but the Prince and Princess of Wales are in residence and so Thomas Pitt from Secret Services is called in to sort out the sordid matter with discretion.
Turns out four wealthy businessmen, accompanied by their wives, had been staying at the palace to discuss a project that has fired the prince’s imagination: the construction of a 6,000-mile railroad stretching the length of Africa.
As Pitt comes to find out, after dinner the night before as the wives retired to their bedrooms, prostitutes were brought in to entertain the prince and his male guests. It is one of these women who is found dead the next morning.
New York Times bestselling author Anne Perry has written another wonderful tale of suspense, made all the more intriguing by the social customs of the day and the low regard accorded most policemen in Victorian times.
I was disappointed that Pitt’s wife Charlotte was not more in the book since the bond between the husband and wife are often some of the strongest sections in Perry’s books. The explanation is that Pitt had to keep so much of this so very secret, particularly after it becomes clear that the servants are probably not involved in the crime leaving only the businessmen or the prince himself as the likely culprits.
Instead of Charlotte, the Pitt family maid, Gracie, takes on a larger role in this book. Gracie is brought in as a new servant working undercover. While trying to ferret out information from behind the scenes, she must endure regular abuse from another one of the maids.
Perry, who’ll be at Murder by the Book today, has written 23 books in the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series, another 15 in the private detective William Monk series (also set in Victorian England) and five in her series set in World War I. – Margaret Downing