Newcomers to Perry's series about Victorian police officer Thomas Pitt might be baffled by all the backstory from 2001's The Whitechapel Conspiracy in this 22nd entry, but loyal fans should hit the ground reading. Bounced from his beloved job as superintendent at the Bow Street cop shop in the political backlash of the plot against Queen Victoria that he and his aristocratic wife, Charlotte, uncovered in that last book, Pitt not only has to work for the sneaky Victor Narraway of Special Branch but must also give up a much-deserved vacation with his family to look into the murder of a society spiritualist in London's Southampton Row. It seems that Charles Voisey, head of a secret society called the Inner Circle and the man whom the Pitts stopped from coming this close to turning England into a republic (with himself as president), is now running for Parliament as a Tory against a promising Liberal candidate, Aubrey Serracold. Voisey shouldn't stand a chance—unless Serracold's wife, one of the murdered medium's clients, really did knock her off. Since Charlotte spends virtually all of the book on Dartmoor, her place in the investigation is ably filled by her sister, Emily, married to another up-and-coming Liberal. As ever, excellent craftsmanship sets this series in the front rank of historical mysteries. (Mar. 1)
Forecast:A 15-city author tour, national print and radio advertising as well as a sample chapter in the mass market edition of The Whitechapel Conspiracy (Jan.) should help ensure another run up bestseller lists.