cover image Farriers' Lane

Farriers' Lane

Anne Perry. Fawcett Books, $20 (374pp) ISBN 978-0-449-90569-2

In the riveting 13th adventure of Victorian police Inspector Thomas Pitt and his wife, Charlotte, Perry ( Belgrave Square ) reshuffles her deck of series characters while adeptly weaving in themes of anti-Semitism and abuse of the law. When appeals court judge Samuel Stafford dies at a London theater, the Pitts are in the audience as well. The inspector, who immediately suspects poisoning, is eventually assigned to the case and soon surmises a connection between the killing and the dead man's recent attempt to reopen the notorious Farrier's Lane case of five years earlier, in which a young Jewish man was hanged for killing a friend and crucifying him to a stable door with horseshoe nails. While Pitt determines that Mrs. Stafford and her lover may have played roles in the judge's murder, he also faces the possibility that in solving this case he might uncover a miscarriage of justice in the earlier one, which officials make clear should remain closed. But then the police sergeant who brought in the convicting evidence in that trial is found hanging from his bedroom ceiling, and Thomas, Charlotte, her mother and great-aunt, and even the Pitts' maid Gracie apply themselves to the solution. Even Oscar Wilde has a cameo appearance, supplying the vital clue in this convincing look at the seamy side of Victorian life. (Apr.)