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Another of the author's Victorian tales involving plebian Inspector Pitt and his aristocratic, sleuthing wife Charlotte (Rutland Place, etc.) in a case close to home. Charlotte's brother-in-law George, husband of sister Emily, has been poisoned in the Cardington Crescent mansion of Uncle Eustace March, where he and Emily were staying for the London ""season."" Lusty, bombastic, widowed Eustace, his grim mother; rebellious daughter Tassie; fragile painter son William, and beautiful daughter-in-law Sybilla were all in residence, along with feisty Aunt Vespasia and handsome, well-connected, unmonied Jack Hadley, a suitor for Tassie. They were all aware of George's ardent affair with Sybilla, which seemed to be ending just before his death. Now Charlotte moves in to comfort Emily and, after a second murder, provides husband Thomas with a crucial lead that ties in with a previous, unrelated killing and eventually pinpoints George's murderer. Perry gives a vivid, if sometimes tract-like, picture of Victorian London and the appalling contrasts between its haves and have-nots, but there are too many soporific pages of the sister's vapors and speculations. In this story, anyway, less would have been much more.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1987
Publisher: St. Martin's