The year is 1899 and Thomas Pitt from the Special Branch has been summoned to Buckingham Palace by Queen Victoria herself. Knowing that her reign is drawing to a close, she has been concerned about the company that her son and heir, Edward, is keeping and had tasked her trusted friend John Halberd to investigate. One man in particular, Alan Kendrick, is of interest but before he could report back, Halberd is found drowned in the Serpentine. Although it has been declared an unfortunate accident, Queen Victoria is not convinced all is as it seems and asks Pitt to continue the investigation. Knowing he must work alone, Pitt finds himself in a dangerous situation which threatens the safety of those around him and the monarchy itself…
Victorian crime fiction is an interest of mine so I was pleased to get the opportunity to read Murder on the Serpentine. Anne Perry is not an author I had come across before, despite this being the 32nd book in this series! I had, therefore, some reservations before reading as the characters would obviously be well-established and would have lengthy back-stories that I would not be privy to. Although I did find keeping up with some of the peripheral characters slightly confusing, I found that the author had shared enough information about Thomas Pitt and his wife, Charlotte, to make the story easy to follow.
The plot is an interesting one and not one that I was expecting at the start of the book. I did, however, find that I enjoyed reading about Pitt’s investigative work more than the political aspect of the storyline. As all loose ends were tied up in the last quarter of the book, it became a fast-paced read as we discovered a completely different, more ruthless side of Thomas Pitt. On the strength of this book, I would definitely read more from the series.
With thanks to Net Galley and Headline for the advance copy.