Murder on the Serpentine: A Charlotte and Thomas Pitt Novel

Written by Anne Perry
Review by Tom Vallar

Commander Thomas Pitt, Head of Special Branch, is summoned to Buckingham Palace. Queen Victoria needs Pitt to fully investigate what police have ruled the accidental drowning in a shallow body of water of her close friend and confidante, John Halberd. She fears his death is a result of her request to ensure that a close friend of the Prince of Wales has not misused his influence with the future king to sully the reputation of the Crown.

This is not an obvious Special Branch case, so Pitt is on thin ice about who he can trust and how he can mix with high society to discover any clues. Fans of the series will recognize that this cries out for the intervention of his mentor, Victor Narraway, and Charlotte’s aunt Vespasia, both of whom have been Pitt’s entrée into the affairs of the high and mighty in past adventures—but they are out of the country on their honeymoon.

This 32nd entry will be the last in the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series of Victorian novels, but Perry vows to pick up the thread 10 years in the future with a new generation. The numerous allusions to past cases in Pitt’s career that hinge on the struggle for power, and the delicate way it must be used so as not to abuse it, can become tedious. But I promise you, the ending contains a treasure worthy of the conclusion of any series.