Most helpful critical review
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Not my favorite
on April 28, 2014
I've read all of Anne Perry's Victorian novels and am a big fan of her work, in general. Her earlier works are vibrant, absolutely alive with period detail and color. They boast a swift tempo with action and suspense harmonized with romance and emotional insight. Her main characters are complex people who develop over time into seasoned and mature persons, credible and likable. The author's typically winning formula hasn't quite come together in this latest novel, in my opinion. Indeed, her last several novels seem to be more languid and formulaic. I wonder if Perry is simply getting bored with these characters and this time period? Death on Blackheath seems tired and often turgid to me. There is a lot of repetitive inner musings by Pitt and not much in the way of real action or suspense. As his investigation gets bogged down, so does the novel. Pitt, the recently promoted head of Special Branch has been called in to investigate the sudden disappearance of a housemaid in the home of a naval weapons expert. As the naval race between Britain and Germany was gearing up at the end of the 19th century, it was feared that the maid's disappearance threatened dire implications for national security. That should have provided a tense and urgent scenario for the reader, but somehow, this book never really got off the ground for me. There were so many thwarted avenues of investigation, not a lot of action, and Pitt's wife Charlotte, a spirited and clever woman who has played important roles in his earlier investigations, has a very limited role in this one. I think a number of Perry fans will find this novel not up to her usual standard, but as every Perry fan also knows, a ho-hum Perry novel is still better than a good many others.