First Sentence: The man stood in front of Thomas Pitt in the untidy office, papers all over the desk from half a dozen cases Pitt was working on.
Queen Victoria summons Commander Thomas Pitt to investigate the murder of her confidant, Sir John Hilberd. Sir John had been looking into the influence Alan Kendrick, a horse-racing enthusiast might have on Victoria’s son, the Prince of Wales and, perhaps, prove a danger to the monarchy.
Perry so perfectly creates the environment of the time, the constraints and social restrictions on men and women, and the division of the classes—“Aunt Vespasia calls all her maids Gwen, regardless of what their names really are. I don’t think they mind.” Perry’s details are exacting, right down to the way we imagine Queen Victoria might sound.
This is a time when Germany and the Kaiser are looking at expanding their power. That the Pitt’s son, Daniel, realizes this and wants to study German, looking at a possible career in the diplomatic service, is interesting and a possible bridge to the series’ future.
The Boar War, and that there were actually two Boar Wars, isn’t something about which most know very much. While this doesn’t go into the war, it focused a bit on the lead up to it. It deals with the issue of the greed of men, and on trading connections for profit.
For those who follow the series, it is nice to see Charlotte and her sister, Emily, working together again to help Pitt in his investigation. Perry’s descriptions of fashion and food provide us a true sense of place and time, as do the inclusions of actual historical events and the social issues of the time.
“Murder on the Serpentine” is a very good entry into and excellent series. Redemption is a theme which runs through the series. The manner in which the villain is dealt with is satisfactory and very effective, and the ending particularly gratifying.
MURDER ON THE SERPENTINE (Pol Proc-Thomas/Charlotte Pitt-England-Victorian)-VG
Perry, Anne – 32nd in series
Ballentine Books – March, 2017