ANNE PERRY – Brunswick Gardens. Inspector Thomas Pitt & Charlotte (Ellison) Pitt #18. Columbine, hardcover, 1998. Fawcett Crest, paperback, 1999.

   When Unity Bellwood, a young woman working as a translator for prominent clergyman Ramsay Parmenter, is found dead at the foot of the staircase in the entrance hall of his house, Superintendent Thomas Pitt is assigned to investigate the delicate matter by Commissioner Cornwallis. Unity was a believer in feminism, free love and the theories of Charles Darwin and had frequent arguments with Reverend Parmenter. In fact, she had one shortly before her fatal fall and, though there were no witnesses, several people. including his wife, heard the shout “No, no … Reverend” before the body was discovered. Later it is disclosed that she was also three months pregnant.

   Living in the house, besides the servants, were Parmenter’s two grown daughters, his son Mallory, a recent convert to Catholicism who planned to leave shortly to study for the priesthood and his curate. To his great surprise Thomas discovers that the curate is his erstwhile brother-in-law Dominic Corde. Corde was married to Thomas’ wife’s sister Sara, who was one of the Cater Street Hangman’s victims, whose murders Thomas was investigating when he met Charlotte. At that time Corde was a womanizer, and Charlotte had a secret crush an him. Has his character changed so completely in the intervening years? Thomas soon concludes that the murderer must be one of the three men in the house. But it isn’t until another death takes place and Charlotte helps that he is able to come up with the solution.

   Though well written and with credible characters the book suffers from being t-o-o l-o-n-g at over four hundred pages. And, since it’s rather easy to spot the killer there isn’t enough suspense to sustain its length. The tacked on romance at the end doesn’t help much either.

— Reprinted from The Hound of Dr. Johnson #19, May 2002.