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by Anne Perry

Pub Date: April 12th, 2022
ISBN: 978-0-593-35873-3
Publisher: Ballantine

In Perry’s latest Daniel Pitt mystery, the young barrister and his friends grapple with a serial killer terrorizing London.

It’s a cold, wet February in 1912 London, and the forecast calls for murder. A thorny assault case has landed on Daniel’s desk, and the second casualty of the so-called Rainy-day Slasher is now in the morgue being examined by Daniel’s friend Dr. Miriam fford Croft, a newly minted pathologist. Lena Madden, the second victim, like the first, Sandrine Bernard, was in her 20s. Like Sandrine, Lena was viciously stabbed, and part of her index finger on her dominant hand was severed. Soon, a third body, that of middle-aged banker Roger Haviland, is found, similarly mutilated. All the crimes occurred during blinding rain, in late afternoon or evening darkness. The police, spearheaded by Daniel’s fellow Cambridge alum Inspector Ian Frobisher, focus their investigation on what, if anything, connected the three in life. Much prevarication ensues as Frobisher and his ad hoc team of Miriam; her boss, Dr. Evelyn Hall; and Daniel mull over whether or not the murders could have been random, committed by more than one person, copycat crimes, etc. The only commonality that emerges, in an information deficit seemingly intended to enhance suspense, is that each victim had been, at one time or another, a Cambridge student. Two were acquainted with suburban vicar Richard Rhodes and his wife, Polly, who also have Cambridge ties. An apparent red herring is Daniel’s new case defending Cambridge history professor Nicholas Wolford, who, in a scuffle over a groundless accusation of plagiarism, broke his accuser’s nose and jaw. Much backstory about Miriam’s and Dr. Eve’s struggles to succeed in a field closed to women, and many interviews among and between the above characters, warmed by those English creature comforts of tea, shortbread, and coal fires, drain tension from the story until the hurried and minimally foreshadowed close.

Appealing mainly for well-rounded characters, not plot.