Southampton Row

Written by Anne Perry
Review by Ilysa Magnus

This, Anne Perry’s 22nd Thomas and Charlotte Pitt book, is an admirable entry in this Victorian mystery series. Pitt is no longer with Bow Street, having been stripped of his Superintendency after the Whitechapel affair. Pitt is now with Special Branch, in which political intrigue is even more on the agenda, and ostensibly, is no longer doing the type of police work he once did and loved. How does the murder of a prominent clairvoyant, then, impact Pitt? Why and how does he become the pivotal person in this investigation?

The story is complex and to some extent, requires that the reader know a bit about Pitt’s past. Some understanding of the genesis of the rancor between Pitt and his nemesis, Charles Voisey, Tory candidate for a critical Parliamentary seat and a member of the secret society known as the Inner Circle, is required. There are fascinating scenes in which the candidates standing for that one critical seat address crowds in the streets about the issues facing them. Historical figures, such as Prime Minister Gladstone, make the appropriate appearances. Perry has a remarkable feel for Victorian London, for the popular ‘hot buttons’ like Home Rule, for the impact of past British wars on old soldiers. It is always a pleasure to read her books.