Fifth in the Charlotte & Thomas Pitt historical mystery series set in late Victorian London and revolving around Detective Inspector Pitt and his busybody of a wife.
This particular story provides an in-depth look at how the mere accident of losing a trinket can have a profound effect on everyone in one’s circle. Followed with that step up to true scandal whether it’s murder or stepping out on one’s spouse.
For all the desperation Caroline feels about recovering her locket, I don’t see why she doesn’t come right out and explain what she fears. Instead she just keeps dancing and dancing about. And considering how reluctant she is to explain, you’d think she’d realize what she was doing was wrong. Grandmama could do with a few smacks, oy, whine, bitch, complain, moan, and groan. “Nothing’s been the same since Prince Albert died in ’61. He was a man with standards! No wonder the poor Queen is in perpetual mourning—”
Ambrosine is too funny. She prefers to hire cooks with a nice hand with cakes and pastries. The current cook can’t cook soup and…it’s just what her husband loves. Oh well.
It is a nice peek into “current events” as all this taking tea requires chit-chat about the latest books, Society news, dancehall songs, and the interactions between men and women. Thank you for today’s attitudes! The telephone is just coming into use—not at the station of course.
I am curious as to why Mr. Charrington was so anxious for Pitt to believe that Mina Spencer-Brown was unhappy, neurotic, and unstable. The only neighbor while all the rest thought just the opposite. The sisters’ exchanges with Alaric are really very vague.
The segue into discovering just where and how Ottilie Charrington died was certainly fun! And very unexpected.
The potential for disaster is horrendous and Caroline Ellison finally writes Charlotte for help. After all, Charlotte has worked on cases for her husband, this is no different except they will avoid the scandal of a policeman on the doorstep.
Obviously one mustn’t mention what one has lost, so Caroline and Charlotte make the rounds of the neighbors calling on them and dropping hints, looking for any sign of guilt or information. Giving us an inside look at the relationships between each of Mrs. Ellison’s neighbors. Quite a useful start when one of them is murdered. Quite dismaying as Charlotte realizes how far much her mother has fallen emotionally. At which point, she engages Emily’s aid. Good heavens, if her father should find out! A divorce! It would reverberate onto everyone in the family…!
And Mrs. Spencer-Brown’s murder is not the only tragedy to strike in Rutland Place. A tragic carriage accident has laid out Tormod Lagarde and his sister is just beside herself. Naturally the hideous Amaryllis doesn’t hold back.
Charlotte has married down—to a policeman of all things! Thomas Pitt has the manners and speech of Charlotte’s class, but certainly not the appearance. Dudley Athelstan is Pitt’s superior and most anxious that this death be a suicide.
Gracie is the maid the Pitts have hired to help with 18-month-old Jemima with plans for her to help when the coming babe is born.
Caroline and Edward Ellison are Charlotte’s parents. Emily, Lady Ashworth, is her younger sister. Grandmama Ellison is a major pain and lives with Caroline and Edward. Maddock is the Ellison family butler who has been through quite a bit with the family.
Of the neighbors in Rutland Place, there is Ambrosine (very eccentric) and Lovell Charrington (very uptight) with their remaining son Inigo who takes after Mama (their beloved daughter Ottilie died); the very critical and poking Mina and Alston Spencer-Brown; Eloise and Tormod Lagarde, an orphaned brother and sister; the spiteful Mrs. Amaryllis Denbigh is quite up in her own worth and dismisses anyone she feels is beneath her; and, Theodora von Schenck (Amaryllis’ sister) is a widow with a great deal more money than previously.
Monsieur Paul Alaric who lives in Paragon Walk near Lady Ashworth. Dr. Mulgrew seems to tend to most of the people in Rutland Place with a special affection for the late Ottilie. Ada Church is a famous music hall performer.
The title is abrupt and to the point for all the action takes place in Rutland Place.