Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sophia Rose - Guest Review - Murder on the Serpentine by Anne Perry

It's time again to welcome Sophia Rose to review on the blog. Today she's bringing a review of #32 in International bestseller Anne Perry's Charlotte and Thomas Pitt Mysteries, Murder on the Serpentine.
Take it away Sophia Rose!


Murder on the Serpentine by Anne Perry
#32 Charlotte & Thomas Pitt Mysteries
Historical Mystery
Publisher:  Ballantine Books
Published: 3.21.17
Pages: 288
Rating: 4
Format: eARC
Source:  Net Galley
Sellers:  Amazon - Barnes& Noble - Kobo 

GoodReads Blurb:
In the history of Anne Perry’s bestselling Victorian mystery series, the stakes have never been greater than now—as a mission for queen and country places the future of the British Empire squarely in Thomas Pitt’s hands.

It is not the custom for the commander of Special Branch to receive a royal summons—so Thomas Pitt knows it must be for a matter of the gravest importance. The body of Sir John Halberd, the Queen’s confidant, has been found in the shallow water of the Serpentine in Hyde Park, bearing the evidence of a fatal blow to the head. At Her Majesty’s request, Sir John had been surreptitiously investigating Alan Kendrick, a horse-racing enthusiast who seems to have had an undue amount of influence on the Prince.

Now Commander Pitt must navigate the corridors of power with the utmost discretion and stealth, for it seems certain that Sir John’s killer is a member of the upper classes. Aided by his wife, Charlotte, and her social contacts, Pitt seeks out the hidden motives behind the polite façade of those to the manner born—and uncovers a threat to the throne that could topple the monarchy.

With Murder on the Serpentine, Thomas Pitt nears a crossroads in his brilliant career—one that promises new challenges, both professional and personal, still to be met. But first, he and Charlotte must conquer the twists and turns of suspense master Anne Perry’s most cunningly crafted plot—to achieve their finest hour, or suffer their darkest.

Sophia Rose's Review:

Commander Thomas Pitt gets set onto his latest case by none other than the queen herself.  This quickened my interest and had me eager to be along with Pitt and Charlotte as they hunted down the truth.  Pitt's case is two-fold.  He must determine if a death of a man in a pleasure boat was accident or murder and he must find out what the man knew about one of the Prince's rising star friends.

Murder on the Serpentine was more quiet and cunning rather than heart-stopping intensity.  I loved how it returned to the feel of the older books for this middle-aged husband and wife detecting team.  In the last several books, Pitt's cases were getting away from team detecting because Charlotte couldn't help with spies and anarchist issues, but this one took things back into the world that Charlotte and her sister Emily know well- drawing room and garden parties where the real clues are to be found among the aristocracy. 

It was also reminiscent of the early years of their marriage when they had to work to make a class-difference relationship and two strong personalities with stronger opinions really work as they solved Pitt's cases.  In this one, Charlotte is having a mid-life crisis moment of 'does he still love me?  See me as attractive?' and 'have I become boring and predictable?'  Pitt is having his own crisis involving conscious as he must determine if the ends justify the means with the ‘good of the many outweighing the needs of the one’ sort of thing with his position of Commander of Special Branch.  It was interesting exploring these personal plot threads alongside the actual mystery.

Now if there was a part that was a wee bit disappointing- and I do mean minor- it was that the actual murderer and reason came out well early of the end.  This was on purpose and happened well after much work was done to find the truth, but I missed that never knowing feeling and big twists to give me the aha at the end.  This one becomes more a thing about how to get the perpetrator particularly since things must be kept discreet with the royal family involved.

As is always the case, this book was loaded with authentic historical detail on high Victorian society, British world affairs like the fear and warmongering between the Boer Wars, the rising power of Germany, and the latter days of Victoria's reign.  Neat to see the forensics and ways of police work at the time for Pitt's part of the story and also fascinating to get Charlotte's side as she navigates drawing room afternoons with other ladies and attends a woman's club for women serious about women's rights.

This author's gift is allowing the reader to get to know the cast of characters through and through with their strengths and flaws so motives and actions become as intriguing as the mystery itself which is rolled up with these character studies.

In summary, this was another grand installment and I loved that fun surprise at the end of this one and look forward to seeing how it will affect the future books of the series.  While, I think a reader could pick up any story in the series and enjoy it as a standalone mystery for the most part, personally I recommend getting them in order because the series is very much about the characters ongoing stories that carry through and there will be multiple references to the past and other regular characters.  Either way, I can recommend these who enjoy a strong character-driven and historical authentic feel to a husband and wife detective series.

Anne Perry Bio:
Anne Perry (born Juliet Hulme) is a British historical novelist.

Juliet took the name "Anne Perry," the latter being her stepfather's surname. Her first novel, The Cater Street Hangman, was published under this name in 1979. Her works generally fall into one of several categories of genre fiction, including historical murder mysteries and detective fiction. Many of them feature a number of recurring characters, most importantly Thomas Pitt, who appeared in her first novel, and amnesiac private investigator William Monk, who first appeared in her 1990 novel The Face of a Stranger. As of 2003 she had published 47 novels, and several collections of short stories. Her story "Heroes," which first appeared the 1999 anthology Murder and Obsession, edited by Otto Penzler, won the 2001 Edgar Award for Best Short Story.

Recently she was included as an entry in Ben Peek's Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth, a novel exploring the nature of truth in literature.

Sophia’s Bio:
Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.
Sophia’s Social Media Links:

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  1. Great detailed review Sophia! This does sound like something I would like, even if the mystery aspect is revealed early on.

    1. Thanks Kindlemom!! Its great isn't it!

    2. Yes, the mystery turned out to be only half the battle. Building the case against him with evidence ended up being the more challenging part. He was a slippery eel. :)

  2. You are everywhere Interesting that the case wraps up before the end

    1. I'm like Santa today. Haha!

      It was interesting how the murder mystery was challenging and then knowing who the killer was and why turned into the intense part of how to prove it so he could be arrested. Unexpected, but turned out pretty good. :)

  3. These sound like the JD Robb ones. Not the actual stories but the cast of characters and being able to pick up here or there but better from the start. And goodness, these ladies write long series! I'm glad you enjoyed this one! I'll start her one day :)

    1. Yeah Anna she's on my wish list too!!

    2. Oh, love the comparison b/c I know the JD Robbs are favorites of yours like the Anne Perrys are of mine. Yes, exactly. They can be jumped in on wherever, but all the second layer of ongoing stuff would be missed out on. I didn't know it when I read this one, but I guess it's the final one in Charlotte and Thomas' series. The next books will follow their kids. I already saw a short Christmas novella of their daughter meeting her new detecting partner. Looking forward to more. :)