Betrayal at Lisson Grove

Written by Anne Perry
Review by Ann Northfield

It is 1895, a time of political upheaval in various parts of Europe. Inspector Pitt of Scotland Yard Special Branch witnesses a murder and, in pursuing the murderer, ends up in France. Realising that there is more to it than just apprehension of a criminal, Pitt takes his first steps towards uncovering a big conspiracy that has its roots back in the Special Branch itself.

The betrayal of the title refers to Pitt’s certainty that there must be someone evil working to undermine the system from within. Meanwhile Pitt’s wife, Charlotte, has gone away with Narraway, Pitt’s disgraced boss, to Ireland to work on an old case and find out who engineered Narraway’s fall from grace and why. This is complicated by Narraway’s secret love for his employee’s wife. The scenes in Ireland are some of the strongest of the novel, with intrigue and painful secrets all interwoven with Ireland’s past and present struggles.

The period details, plot and characterisation are clear, but the pace is somewhat slow and events seem to be repeated endlessly. The event happens, then someone thinks about it and then they tell someone else about it – all of which meant that this reader became a little bored at times. Perry is an established author with many books to her credit, so clearly she has many fans who will no doubt enjoy this more than I.