Book review: Treachery at Lancaster Gate by Anne Perry
Anne Perry’s thrillers always deliver so much more than a routine Victorian murder mystery.
Her two best-selling and long-running series, one featuring police Commander Thomas Pitt and the other starring Inspector William Monk and his competent and caring wife Hester, have a huge fan base and have helped her become one of the most popular authors of historical crime fiction.
These thought-provoking, atmospheric and authentic whodunits harness the murky underbelly of Dickensian London with plotlines that draw unnerving and revealing parallels between the moral and ethical values of society today and those in the late 19th century.
Treachery at Lancaster Gate is the 31st novel in Perry’s perennially popular Victorian crime series featuring Commander Pitt, head of London’s Special Branch, and his upper class wife Charlotte whose connections to the landed gentry and aristocracy often help her husband in his investigations.
It’s 1898 and when Pitt arrives at the scene of a devastating bombing at what was an ordinary suburban house in Lancaster Gate, he is appalled to find two policemen dead and three more critically injured.
Equally shocked is Inspector Samuel Tellman, once Pitt’s trusty sergeant when they worked together at Bow Street.
Could anarchists be to blame… half the revolutionaries in Europe have either lived in London or passed through. And earlier in the year, nihilists in Europe assassinated President Carnot of France and Tsar Alexander II of Russia.
But as Pitt and Tellman investigate the shocking crime, they find it looks increasingly like a personal vendetta against these particular policemen who were deliberately lured to the scene. Questions are raised about whether the officers lied about a drugs raid that went fatally wrong, and let an innocent man hang.
The idea of police dishonesty cuts Tellman to the quick as he joined the force to protect society, not to exploit it. But he must uncover the truth, however much he wants to resist the signs of blackmail and corruption.
With the threat of further bombings, and their superior officers pushing for a quick resolution, Pitt and Tellman find their every move scrutinised, and their own lives suddenly at risk...
Perry is never afraid to probe deep into the heart of 19th century darkness and here she directs her unflinching gaze on foul deeds at the highest levels of society. As always, the frailty of human nature takes centre stage in a story that is as exciting and tense as it is revealing and thought-provoking. Treachery at Lancaster Gate is published in hardback priced at £19.99 by Headline.
Also out now in paperback from Headline, priced at £7.99, is Anne Perry’s Corridors of the Night, the 21st William and Hester Monk mystery featuring the intrepid husband and wife crime-solving duo.
One night, in a corridor of the Royal Naval Hospital, Greenwich, Hester, who is working there as a nurse, is approached by a terrified girl. She is from a hidden ward of children, all subject to frequent blood-letting, and her brother is dying.
While her husband William’s River Police fight to keep London safe from gun-runners, Hester takes on a new role at the hospital, helping to administer a secretive new treatment. But she slowly realises that this experimental cure is putting at risk the lives of children. Attempting to protect the young victims, she comes under threat from one rich, powerful and very ill man who is desperate to survive...
Early science theories come under the microscope in a riveting and highly atmospheric medical mystery which sees William and Hester tested to the limit.