cover image Cardington Crescent

Cardington Crescent

Anne Perry. St. Martin's Press, $15.95 (314pp) ISBN 978-0-312-00113-1

Perry's Victorian sleuths Inspector Thomas Pitt and his redoubtable wife Charlotte returnafter Death in the Devil's Acre and Bluegate Fieldsto poke holes in the stiff fabric of London's high society. While Thomas works on a case involving a murdered woman whose body has been dismembered and left in packages around the city, Charlotte's brother-in-law George is poisoned at the home of his cousin's family on Cardington Crescent. George had been suffering an infatuation for his cousin's wife Sybilla, and the family would like to squelch the suggestion of scandal by leaving the crime unsolved, allowing their circle to believe the poison was administered by his wife Emily Charlotte's sister in a fit of jealousy. Charlotte arrives at Cardington Crescent to clear Emily's name and while she's there, Sybilla is also murdered, strangled with her own long, lovely hair. Thomas and Charlotte work at the mysteries, each cutting through layers of class structure to arrive at the same sordid point, where incest and child neglect intersect. Perry brings the era to life not just by period detail, but with sure-handed characterization and compelling, timeless plot. (March 22)