First Sentence: Pitt stood at the top of the stairs and looked across the glittering ballroom of the Spanish Embassy in the heart of London.
Charlotte and Thomas Pitt are attending a glittering society ball. Charlotte notices a young woman who seems to be afraid of a young man who refuses to leave her alone. The young woman runs away and through a glass window to her death. A wealthy banker, also at the ball, returns home to find his wife brutally assaulted and dead. Although Thomas Pitt, now head of Special Branch, can’t openly investigate, he asks for the help of his former boss, Victor Narraway.
From the very beginning, Ms. Perry’s descriptions place you within the scene and make you feel part of the story. You also become completely involved with the characters, as she also describes emotions very well.
The characters are wonderful. They become people you care about and want to follow. I’ll admit I did try to figure out Great Aunt Vaspasia’s age. As Charlotte is now 40, I would guess Vaspasia to be in her late 70s/early 80s. She’s a wonderful character, no matter her age. One thing I did particularly like about this book is that it is an ensemble cast; relying still on Charlotte and Thomas, but also more on Victor Narraway, as well as Aunt Vaspasia and solicitor Peter Symington. Another thing I truly appreciate is that the characters grow and develop with each book, including seeing more of the Pitt’s daily life and their children.
Perry has also taken historical figures and either used, or referred to them, in their appropriate roles--Rudyard Kipling, Randolph Churchill, Dr. Jameson and Cecil Rhodes—as well as incorporating important events of the time, such as the search for gold and Boer War. This adds life and veracity to the story.
With each book Ms. Perry focuses on a social issue critical to the period as well as in today’s headlines. While some may find her focus on this issue to be heavy-handed, I felt it well-done and as critical a focus for the story as it is necessary to address today. The subject is well handled with the level of outrage and import it deserves. Beyond that, it is a very good mystery. You think you know who’s guilty, but are you right? Or is there a surprise waiting for you? Sorry, you’ll have to read the book to find out.
“Midnight at Marble Arch” held to the high standard of Ms. Perry’s writing and confirms her place among the very best mystery writers. Highly recommended.
MIDNIGHT AT MARBLE ARCH (Hist Mys-Pitt series–England–1896/Victorian) – VG+
Perry, Anne – 28th in series
Ballantine Books, 2013