Inspector Pitt is charged with murder in this “gripping and highly satisfying” entry in the New York Times–bestselling Victorian mystery series (Publishers Weekly).
At the behest of his superior, Thomas Pitt reopens a case gone cold. Three years prior, Robert York, an important member of the British Foreign Office, was murdered in his home in London’s exclusive Hanover Close. Pitt has been advised to handle the situation with the utmost discretion, given the compromising circumstances of the crime: a distinguished victim from a powerful family, whispered rumors of treason, and the unimpeachable reputation of the widow, whose imminent marriage to a high-level diplomat could be cause for concern.
One of Pitt’s first leads, a York family housemaid, seems innocent enough, but shortly after his interrogation, the woman is found dead. To make matters worse, Pitt is accused of the crime and thrown into prison. Now, only Charlotte and her recently widowed sister, Emily, Lady Ashworth, stand between one of Victorian England’s most adept private investigators and the gallows.
From the upstairs drawing rooms to the servants’ downstairs quarters, Charlotte and Emily play a deadly game—and it may be only a matter of time before a killer gets the best of both of them.
Inspector Thomas Pitt, Anne Perry's gentle and astute hero of eight other Victorian mysteries, assumes a secondary role in this complex, gripping and highly satisfying mystery. High officials in the Foreign Office wish to reopen the unsolved murder case of one of their diplomats, Robert York, and Pitt is reluctantly chosen by Supt. Ballarat, his arrogant and ambitious superior, to head the investigation. Ballarat is fearful of offending powerful friends, so he cautions Pitt to be thoroughly discreet, thus rendering him ineffectual. Charlotte, Pitt's able wife, decides to aid him by exploring the upper levels of society that are closed to a police inspector. Skillfully assuming the role of a country girl with breeding and money, she befriends key figures in the York murder: Veronica, the stunning yet fragile widow, and Loretta, York's steely and self-contained mother. Emily, Charlotte's titled and wealthy sister, carries the investigation a step further by hiring on as Veronica's ladies' maid, where, her real identity unknown, she is able to eavesdrop on both upstairs and downstairs gossip. The mystery is an adroit blend of thick London atmosphere and a convincing cast, mingled with the complex and straitlaced conventions of Victorian England. A bonus is a totally surprising yet wonderfully plausible finale.