From Publishers Weekly
The detecting and diplomatic skills of Thomas Pitt, now assigned to the Special Branch, are tested as never before in bestseller Perry's solid 25th novel to feature the Victorian sleuth (after 2005's Long Spoon Lane
). In 1893, the discovery of a prostitute's mutilated corpse in a Buckingham Palace cupboard after a stag party presided over by the prince of Wales could spell political disaster for the monarchy. Pitt soon eliminates the members of the sizable household staff as suspects, narrowing his focus to the prince himself and his close friends, who, it turns out, have been planning a major construction project in Africa—a railway that would run from South Africa to Egypt. Though the sensitive nature of Pitt's assignment precludes any active involvement by Charlotte, his wife and partner in earlier cases, he's able to place her maid, Gracie Phipps, on the palace staff to assist him. Perry does a nice job with some plot twists, even if most readers will quickly discount the heir to the throne of England as a viable suspect. (Mar.)
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The venerable Queen Victoria remains on the British throne. Her son, the middlle-aged Prince of Wales, awaits the time to come for his occupancy of the throne. In the meantime, he fills his days—and nights—with wine, women, and song. One such evening explodes when, the next morning, in a linen closet in Buckingham Palace (the queen, fortunately, not in residence at the time) is discovered the bloody body of a prostitute who had been part of the previous evening’s entertainment, when the Prince of Wales hosted a gathering of businessmen to discuss a certain engineering project in which he was interested. Called in to quickly and discreetly get to the bottom of the murder is Inspector Pitt (a recurring Perry character), whose strategy includes installing the maid from his own household as an undercover employee in the palace. In a mystery novel, or any novel, with such a setting, it would have been easy for the author to trip over titles and protocol, but Perry has done her homework and does not stumble. --Brad Hooper