This is an Inspector Pitt (a Victorian Detective) detective story by Anne Perry, and one of many in the series. I have jumped in at Brunswick Gardens.
Pitt is asked to investigate when a young lady, Unity Bellwood is found dead at the bottom of the stairs, after crying out “No, No Reverend”. Witness heard her but nobody saw her fall, she does not appear to have tripped over and she was previously having an argument with Reverend Parmenter, soon destined to become a bishop regarding the translation of some work for which Unity was employed for. Unity’s belief in Darwinism rather god’s creation put some strains on this working relationship.
But it does not seem so straightforward to Pitt and despite pressure from the Bishop wishing to declare Parmenter insane to plead clemency in the act, their belief being it must have carried out the act, there is something that is not right. Pitt encounters the other members of the family, Vita Parmenter the Reverend’s wife, who seems to be suffering in a rather odd way and displaying affection rather freely. Their daughters, Clarice and Tryphena have rather conflicting feelings for Unity, Mallory their brother who has revoked his faith to convert to Catholicism which caused much upset for his father and additional joy for Unity to barrack when testing the theories of their god and their ideas behind their faith. All their alibis stand up, and the servants are not given a second thought which I thought was an interesting twist on the plot of this acceptance that they were never considered suspects.
To Pitt’s surprise though he encounters a face from his past, his personal family past Dominic Corde who has found solace with Reverend Parmenter and found strength in God and himself to pursue a life in the church. A far cry from ten years ago when he first met Dominic.
This is rather a meandering type of detective novel for me there were no exciting peeks and troughs although from a historical point of view (it is set in the late 1890s) there are some interesting class aspects but again this is the middle to upper classes. Servants are a given and they have their place, as do the police, which is why Inspector Pitt’s home life is more interesting and actually helps spark the story along.
A pleasant bit of escapism, no violent scenes or bad language, the plot if anything makes you think about faith, beliefs, feminism and women’s role in society at the time; they may study Theology but it will get them to no position in the church. The murder in some cases is merely a supporting plotline. A book of today, but set in the Victorian period when everything was so different.
This is the first Anne Perry I have actually read. Previously I have only listened to one Buckingham Palace Gardens which was good. The main reason for reading/listening to it was the historical element regarding Queen Victoria and The Prince of Wales. However I really do struggle with audio books, I somehow lose the thread completely and have to keep rewinding to get back to what I remember.
That said, my mum is a fan of Anne Perry’s Inspector Pitt books which was one of the reasons I was drawn to reading one, plenty on the shelf at the parental home to read is the mood took me. It was good but I felt perhaps I did not learn as much about society and the people as I did with listening to Buckingham Palace Gardens. It felt very insular in the plot line but was interesting in showing how Darwinism and Feminism were starting to threaten those who believed in God and challenge long held beliefs. Perhaps more could have been made of this, than there was I felt in the book.
An author I will return to but would not worry if it was not for a number of years. I do not have an overwhelming urge to rush out and buy (or borrow) and catch up on the series of books.