Reviews by L. J. Roberts


ANNE PERRY – Death with a Double Edge. Daniel Pitt #4. Ballantine, hardcover, April 2021. Setting: Georgian England, 1911.

First Sentence: Daniel was worried.

   Jonah Drake, a senior lawyer with fford Croft and Gibson, has been murdered, his body found with Daniel Pitt’s card in the pocket of his jacket. Almost more important to the law firm than who killed Drake, is learning whether the murder was personal, or involved the legal chambers. Looking into his past cases, which were mostly financial,  but which also involved two murder cases, Daniel and colleagues are concerned about possible wrongdoing on Drake’s part, and whether Marcus fford Croft, the firm’s founder, was involved.

   The book starts off very well with Perry adroitly setting scenes that convey the transformation from the Victorian era to the Georgian period, and with the thoughts and anxiety Daniel feels traveling to the morgue. The dialogue is audible; one not only hears the words but the intonation and emotion. Perry wraps one inside Daniel, allowing one to know his thoughts.

   Unfortunately, that becomes the book’s downfall as we spend too much time with Daniel thinking and not doing. It is the protagonist making decisions and acting on them that creates a compelling read. The constant dithering of Daniel, and later even his father, Thomas Pitt, becomes repetitive and, frankly, boring.

   It was nice to have Daniel’s parents, Thomas and Charlotte, involved. Kitteridge, a colleague in the firm, is a good secondary character, but fford Croft is ill-used, and Roman Blackwell and his mother, the two most fascinating characters, were seriously underutilized, which made no sense as they were the ones with the skill and contacts to have done the on-the-street investigation.

   There are huge leaps and assumptions made with no substantiation. At the point of danger and suspense, Perry backs off since one knows the threat isn’t dire and won’t be acted upon. The situation makes no logical sense, and the character behind it could not possibly have thought the threat would work. Even so, once again, the characters sit and dither rather than act. Worst of all, the ending is abrupt making it completely unsatisfactory.

    Death with a Double Edge  is not the best representation of Ms. Perry’s fine writing. As has been noticed for other authors, this may have been a case of trying to write during a period when no one’s focus or attention was quite up to par. One must hope that the next book will be up to Perry’s usual standard.

Rating: Poor