There’s treason in Lisson Grove! That’s where you find London Special Branch, by the way, where Thomas Pitt works with his friend and mentor, Victor Narraway, who holds—or should we say held—the head position there. There’s a conspiracy afoot, and we see the handwriting on the wall: both men have cleverly been removed from their usual posts, and find themselves geographically separated and out of touch.
Anne Perry is best known in mystery circles for her William Monk series and her Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels, both set in Victorian England, and readers of these fine books will welcome this new Charlotte/Thomas entry—the first in three years.
Narraway, accused of treasonous activities and temporarily relieved of his position, must travel to Ireland to seek the real instigator, while Thomas is in France, shadowing what he at first thinks is an anarchist group planning an overthrow of England’s government.
Charlotte has learned from Narraway that both he and Thomas are at high risk for losing their positions as well as their reputations in what may be a well-planned demise. But who has done the planning? It appears as if the true mastermind may work right in Lisson Grove, and in a desperate effort to save her husband’s career, Charlotte accompanies Narraway to Ireland to try and gather information that will help the pair survive. Add to this the open secret that Narraway’s in love—from a distance, of course, this is Victorian England—with Charlotte.
The narrative slips easily from Charlotte to Thomas in alternating chapters, and colorful characters emerge to deepen our interest in what goes on beneath the surface, as we learn more about the deep, longstanding Irish/English “troubles.” Author Perry’s strength lies in her seamless meshing of historical facts and fictional characters, with each polished detail, from décor to politics, unerringly faithful to the era.
One mark of a good writer is consistency—the ability to show us, in each book, more facets of the recurring characters we love, while giving just enough bits of background to allow new readers to jump in without a lot of confusion. Perry wins this one, too; we never feel bored when she touches on the family’s former maid, or revisits the Pitts’ early courtship days; and there’s always Great-aunt Vespasia, a great staple of this series, to enliven as well as anchor the goings-on. Treason at Lisson Grove is a winner on all counts.