Second in the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mystery series set in Victorian London and revolving around a police inspector and his wife.
Each of the murders revolves around babies while the instigator is sex. It’s an interesting look at the double standards of the times and the expectations of the wives’ behaviors as most of the families on the square are torn apart. Expectations and beliefs are torn asunder although, I suspect, several of the women affected end up being much happier. I did rather enjoy Reggie having his complacent little life destroyed, the little prick.
Charlotte quickly proves her worth when she provides Thomas with lots of suggestions on how he might find clues without being direct! She also engages the General’s attentions with her interest in the battles and observations made by family in letters to and from the various fronts. He is also impressed by her organizational abilities. Who knew a woman could be so competent!??
It’s fascinating tiny clues that finally lead to the whole. As I read, I wonder how they can ever find out the truth with so little to go on, but Perry continues to build with those bits and pieces. As the background builds, it inspires more thoughts and inspiration finally leading to an inevitable “of course”.
While planting a tree, gardeners dig up the bodies of two babies only one of which is deformed. It’s difficult to determine how the babies died as there is nothing left but bones still, the police procedures must be followed and so poor Inspector Pitt is thrust up against the self-righteous wall of upper-class entitlement.
In all their blind faith, those who live in the square are surprised at how much Pitt does uncover: the true father of one and why it isn’t her husband’s; another’s indoor proclivities with the parlor maids; the scandalous behavior of one of the daughters of one house and the steps taken to hush it up; and, Charlotte and Emily’s discovery of the whereabouts of another occupant of the square.
And it’s the fears of those occupants that causes everything to unravel.
It’s been two years of marriage for Charlotte and Thomas Pitt. An adjustment to be sure but Charlotte has settled in enough that she’s keen to help Thomas on this case. The coup of Emily’s marrying her lordship and the social stigma of a murder in the family coupled with Charlotte’s embarrassingly forthright speech has resigned the Ellisons to Charlotte lowering herself to Pitt’s level.
Lady Emily Ashworth has been getting a bit bored with her routine life and when Charlotte requests her help on the case, she’s more than happy to lend a hand. Turns out George, Lord Ashworth, is not as oblivious to Emily’s activities as she had thought.
General Brandon Balantyne, his wife Augusta, and their children, Brandy and Christina, live on the square. Allan Ross is a family friend, used and abused. Emily finagles a job with the General for Charlotte to help him with his family memoirs of their military activities to make it easier for Charlotte to snoop. Max is the naughty footman with a head for blackmail.
Other neighbors on the square include Dr. Frederick and Sophie Bolsover; Sir Robert Carlton and Lady Euphemia; Reggie Southeron with his long-suffering wife Adelina, and extremely pert niece Chastity, along with the children’s governess Jemima Waggoner; Georgiana Duff moved in with her sister Latetia Doran after her daughter, Helena, ran away several years ago; and the cynical Garson and Mrs. Mariah Campbell.
Colonel Anstruther is Pitt’s superior at the station.
Oh, I like this cover! It’s an evening event with ladies dressed in the first style of elegance and the gentlemen in evening dress circulating and chatting in a most elegant room of deep red hangings, mirrors, and gilt. A glittering contrast to the murders on Callander Square