A study in Victorian terror
Long Spoon Lane, Anne Perry's latest addition to the excellent Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series, is a compelling tale of murder, terror and corruption in 1893 London. In the opening paragraphs, Thomas Pitt and Victor Narraway, both with the Special Branch for England's homeland security, race across the city in response to a terrorist threat, hoping to thwart a bombing in the gritty East End. Arriving in time to witness, but too late to prevent the explosion and devastation, Pitt and Narraway pursue the suspects. The chase leads them to a tenement in dingy Long Spoon Lane where a gun battle ensues and two suspects are arrested. There is one dead suspect, however. Identified as Magnus Landsborough, he instantly becomes the most interesting piece of a complicated puzzle for Pitt and the Special Branch. Magnus Landsborough died because of an apparent gunshot to the head, but more significantly, he was the son of a respected Member of Parliament. Pitt immediately has several questions: why was Magnus, an ostensibly honorable young man with important social and political connections, involved in the murderous terrorist bombing? And, equally important, how and why did this young man really die? Eager to find answers to these and other questions, Pitt sets out on a harrowing adventure in which he must move with equal ease in tough, down-and-out neighborhoods and in high-society drawing rooms. Relying upon help from his wife Charlotte and a few dependable friends and colleagues, but also reluctantly allying himself with a personal enemy, Pitt despite dangers to himself and his family ultimately exposes terrifying truths about personal loyalties, family secrets, police integrity and Parliamentary politics. Perry fills her exciting novel with perfectly nuanced images of life in 1890s London, proving once again through her adroit blend of ingenious plotting, superb characterizations and compelling themes that she is a master of the Victorian crime novel.
Tim Davis teaches literature at the University of West Florida.