Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Book Review: Perry's Dorchester Terrace

With my busyness lately, teaching classes at Heritage Class Days and at Brave Writer, not to mention homeschooling two teen boys and writing my third novel (which is coming along far too slowly, thank you), I haven't kept up with one of my favorite authors, Scottish mystery writer Anne Perry. While some readers enjoy her William Monk series of mysteries, they're a bit too dark and hopeless for me.

Instead, I prefer her Thomas and Charlotte Pitt mysteries which are set in Victorian England, mostly London. I was delighted the other day to check Goodreads and find that Perry has not added one but two new books to the Pitt series since I read the last one, Treason at Lisson Grove (which was one of my favorites!).

So I ordered both new books from the library and just finished the first, Dorchester Terrace. I plan to start reading Midnight at Marble Arch tomorrow. ;) My only worry is to return the latter before it's due as I had to get it through the county library circuit (actually, it's from the San Diego Public Library), and thus it cannot be renewed.

I appreciate seeing Thomas and Charlotte's relationship develop over the years, from their first encounter when Pitt seeks a serial murderer in Charlotte's neighborhood, one who kills her older sister, Sarah. Pitt, the son of a gamekeeper, and Charlotte, a young society miss, do not hit it off right away--but they slowly grow closer and Charlotte marries him, despite her step down in society by becoming a mere policeman's wife.

They become a team, Pitt the detective and Charlotte, often with her younger sister Emily, their mother, plus Emily's Great Aunt Vespasia, helping with societal connections from time to time in order to solve a case. Perry's writing is rich, complex, and beautiful--she keeps the writing out of the way of the story yet every word resonates. All of these elements combine flawlessly to form the recipe for a wonderful mystery series, and Perry always leaves me guessing until the very end.

My Review: Spoiler-Free
The 25th book in this series, Dorchester Terrace gives us another incredible Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mystery. Pitt is now Head of Special Branch and faces his first real threat: the possible assassination of a visiting Hapsburg duke from Austria. It's definitely a mystery that keeps one guessing until the very end--to the second-to-the-last page, in fact.

I do miss how active Charlotte's role used to be in helping Thomas to solve the various murders he came across, but now with his appointment as Victor Narraway's successor, he cannot share the various threats with her--or his trepidation that a gamekeeper's son and policeman holds a place usually given to a member of the nobility, or at least the upper class.

But Charlotte does get drawn into the case in her own way, of course, as do Emily and Jack. Plus, Aunt Vespasia and Narraway are very much involved behind the scenes in this mystery--which is really two different crimes/potential crimes which link together about 3/4 the way through the book. Dorchester Terrace is yet another brilliant success for Perry!

So the books in my library stack (several of which will need to be renewed):
Midnight at Marble Arch by Anne Perry (Thomas and Charlotte Pitt #26)
Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale (sequel to Austenland)
Why Shoot a Butler?  by Georgette Heyer (in progress when the Pitt mysteries arrived and set aside until I finish them)
North by Northanger and The Matters at Mansfield by Carrie Bebris (Mr. & Mrs. Darcy mysteries--oops, they're overdue! I'll have to renew them immediately!)
Getting over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald

So, happy reading to all!

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