Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Death on Blackheath by Anne Perry

First Sentence: Pitt stood shivering on the steps leading up from the areaway to the pavement and looked down at the clumps of blood and hair at his feet.

Thomas Pitt, Commander of Special Branch, and his sideman, , has been called in to investigate a crime involving signs of a violent struggle, a missing ladies made from the hope of Dudley Kynaston, a naval weapons expert and important to the English Government. The discovery of a severely mutilated female body makes it important to discover whether this is the maid and, if not, where she is. As the investigation proceeds, it becomes clear that people, and their relationships, are not always as they seem.

A well-written hook draws you into the story, establishes Pitt’s position, role and background very quickly. This is critical for readers new to the series. It also returns Pitt much more to his previous role conducting a police investigating; something many of his fans have missed.

Perry’s descriptions create such a strong sense of place and atmosphere. Whether the characters are standing in the dark and cold, or in a warm kitchen with the smells of cooking; she immediately makes the reader part of the scene. Beyond description is the understanding Perry conveys regarding life during Victorian times. The social customs and restrictions, particularly on women, dress, manners, different types of households depending upon wealth and social strata all come to life under Ms. Perry’s deft hand.

The dialogue is excellent and conveys not only the period, but the class and area of England from which each character has come. At the same time, when she does write in dialect, it is never to where the reader has difficulty understanding the conversation.

It is the characters and their relationships which are the true strength of the story. Again, each is introduced, a brief background given and their relationship to the other characters established. One never feels they need a cast of character to understand the interrelationships. For those of us who’ve long followed the series, we’re even caught up, briefly, on past characters. The relatively new character of Stoker, Pitt’s bagman (in the British sense of the word), is a wonderful addition to the series and we learn more about him in this book. One wonders whether he might not take a larger role going forward.

A major theme in all of Ms. Perry’s work is honor, integrity, loyalty to another and to one’s country, and relationships--”…You can’t go through life without owing anybody. The real debts are hardly ever a matter of money: they are about friendship, trust, help when you desperately need it, a hand out in the darkness to take yours, when you’re alone.” ”What debt of honor could he own great than that to his country?

With “Death on Blackheath,” Ms. Perry has added another wonderful book to an excellent series. Yes, there may have been a couple slight deficiencies in the plot and some might find aspects a bit twee (overly sweet), but it also had very good suspense, and some excellent twists that made you question some of the characters. All I know is that I’ll definitely be back for book #30.

DEATH ON BLACKHEATH (Hist Mys-Charlotte and Thomas Pitt-England-Victorian) – VG+
Perry, Anne – 29th in series
Ballentine Books, 2013

No comments:

Post a Comment