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TREASON AT LISSON GROVE
by Anne Perry
Ballantine, April 2011
320 pages
$26.00
ISBN: 0345510585


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The detective Thomas Pitt, at the start of TREASON AT LISSON GROVE, is hot on the heels of a terrorist who he believes is planning to coordinate bombings and assassinations in various European countries. The reader recognizes at once that this is as an extremely timely situation. Pitt is an officer of the Special Branch, an organization that sounds a bit like Homeland Security. Yet he is strangely handicapped, with no cell phone, little access to a phone at all, no credit cards, and no use of the Internet or any type of surveillance equipment. Pitt and his colleague Gower are led to France by the terrorist, after he murders the informant they have been pursuing, and Pitt has to send a telegram to have money wired to him. Although there is nothing dated about this tale, the reason for all this lack of technology is actually quite simple: it takes place not in the first decade of the 21st century, but rather in 1895, the last decade of the 19th . And the terrorists who are so feared are not the groups that concern us today, but rather the anarchists, the people who brought political murder and mayhem to the world a little more than a hundred years ago.

Anne Perry is a master - or, as it is the 1800's, should I say "mistress" - of the period thriller, using the conventions of the time to further the suspense. Something dastardly is going on back at the headquarters in London, and Pitt's superior and strong ally, Narraway, has been barred from his office with the accusation of embezzlement hanging over his head. We feel he has been framed, but by whom, and why? None of this can be easily conveyed across the continent to Pitt, who is counting on his friend to be there for him in case of need. Pitt and Gower are in double jeopardy, and treachery eventually threatens the highest level of society.

Perry uses the constraints of Victorian England to add Gothic romantic hints of repressed sexuality, much more tantalizing than the more graphic sex in many modern mysteries. Narraway is a man of impeccable breeding and upright intentions. His attraction to Charlotte, Pitt's wife, is strongly suggested, yet he would never do anything about it except seethe with his passion. And Charlotte is not just a wife and mother. In this book, as in previous ones, she plays an integral part in solving the mysteries with which her husband becomes involved. Readers who know Perry are aware of her Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series, this one being the 27th. Yet the new reader loses nothing in enjoyment by not having read the previous books. Such is Perry's genius that we learn all we need to know about the couple's background and previous work without feeling overwhelmed by exposition.

This book has an unpredictable and exciting plot, with Charlotte and Narraway traveling to Ireland for information while Pitt is staking out would-be terrorists in France. They are all in situations where they have no one to trust and everything to lose. Don't plan on other activities when you begin reading, because this is an Anne Perry you will not want to put down until you finish.

Anne Corey is a writer, poet, teacher and botanical artist in New York's Hudson Valley.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, March 2011

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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