NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
In Victorian England, a divisive election is fast approaching. Passions are so enflamed that Thomas Pitt, shrewd mainstay of the London police, has been ordered not to solve a crime but to prevent a national disaster. The aristocratic Tory candidate—and Pitt’s archenemy—is Charles Voisey. The Liberal candidate is Aubrey Serracold, whose wife’s dalliance with spiritualism threatens his chances. Indeed, she is one of the participants in a late-night séance that becomes the swan song of a stylish clairvoyant who is found brutally murdered the next morning in her house on Southampton Row. Meanwhile, Pitt’s wife, Charlotte, and their children are enjoying a country vacation—unaware that they, too, are deeply endangered by the same fanatical forces hovering over the steadfast Pitt.
Newcomers to Perry's series about Victorian police officer Thomas Pitt might be baffled by all the backstory from 2001's The Whitechapel Conspiracy in this 22nd entry, but loyal fans should hit the ground reading. Bounced from his beloved job as superintendent at the Bow Street cop shop in the political backlash of the plot against Queen Victoria that he and his aristocratic wife, Charlotte, uncovered in that last book, Pitt not only has to work for the sneaky Victor Narraway of Special Branch but must also give up a much-deserved vacation with his family to look into the murder of a society spiritualist in London's Southampton Row. It seems that Charles Voisey, head of a secret society called the Inner Circle and the man whom the Pitts stopped from coming this close to turning England into a republic (with himself as president), is now running for Parliament as a Tory against a promising Liberal candidate, Aubrey Serracold. Voisey shouldn't stand a chance unless Serracold's wife, one of the murdered medium's clients, really did knock her off. Since Charlotte spends virtually all of the book on Dartmoor, her place in the investigation is ably filled by her sister, Emily, married to another up-and-coming Liberal. As ever, excellent craftsmanship sets this series in the front rank of historical mysteries.