Firstly I would like to say I am a long time fan of Anne Perry - I have followed all of her series and appreciate her accuracy and attention to detail as she takes us into. Two of her series are placed in the Victorian Era.
It is an earlier time with the Monk series, but with Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series, it is the waning days of the Victorian era - After Prince Albert died, Queen Victoria was almost a recluse in her grief and didn't execute her duties as she did.
The Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series has always been charming because it features a working class man, a policeman, Thomas Pitt, who through a murder investigation met a gentry family, and one of their daughters, Charlotte, and they fall in love and marry. She has to adjust to doing her own chores, and he has guilty feelings he is depriving Charlotte with the luxuries she is accustomed to - But they are rich with the love and respect they have with each other. They have 2 children, and have a maid, a whisp of a young woman, Gracie Phipps, who helps them. She literally grows up in the Pitt household.
The charm of this series is Mrs. Perry used all the adult characters to be involved in the mystery and resolution of it. But as Pitt has progressed from policeman to a member of Special Services, that cannot happen as readily. But this outing it is Gracie Phipps' time to shine.
There has been a murder in Buckingham Palace. The Queen is away and the Prince of Wales and his buds are at play, in the guise of meeting to plan a railroad that will run the span of Africa...when the ladies go to bed, they have prostitutes come in to 'entertain' them. Something goes wrong and one of the girls is found in the laundry closet and is naked and gutted - blood all around the sheets - and the Queen's sheets to boot!
With the sensitive nature of the crime, Narraway and Pitt are called in to find what happened and on the QT handle it.
Charlotte, and her sister Emily cannot come on this type of investigation. They used to go in and glean facts and clues for him in social situations, and enlist help from Emily's great aunt in law Aunt Vespasia Cumming Gould - she is a jewel in this series - once was hailed as the most beautiful woman of her time, she is still beautiful in the winter of her life and loves to help them.
But the only person who may be able to help in this Buckingham Palace mystery is Gracie Phipps - she is put undercover as a maid in the palace to see if she can find clues - servants in those days were just about invisible - they could be standing in back of guests dining and the guests treated them as if they weren't there - and the servants could hear a lot of juicy things...
There are brief appearances by our friends, Charlotte, Emily, etc. But thank goodness, Narraway goes to Lady Vespasia for advise about the people involved in the murder investigation. Her part is too short, but much longer than our other friends we are accustomed to seeing in the Pitt books.
The mystery is well layered with twists and turns, and Gracie learns that she is capable of helping Thomas. The difference in class is such a major factor - many of the servants even in the Palace cannot read - and they make a big deal that Gracie can read - and even read Oscar Wilde!
Palace's resolution is handled well, and it is another excellent work by Perry -
Hopefully Perry will give us more of our friends in the next Pitt book.
But Perry continues to write true reflections of the time.