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Book review: Anne Perry provides satisfactory conclusion to series in 'Murder on the Serpentine'

Posted April 5

"MURDER ON THE SERPENTINE," by Anne Perry, Ballantine Books, $28, 275 pages (f)

In "Murder on the Serpentine" by Anne Perry, it is early summer 1899 and Thomas Pitt, head of the Special Branch, is summoned by Queen Victoria to her personal chambers where he is given the daunting task of investigating the death of one of the queen's personal friends and confidantes, Sir John Halberd. The man has been found in the Serpentine, a man-made lake in Hyde Park, London, under the most unusual circumstances, and the queen has asked Pitt to find out who killed Sir John, why he was killed and whether or not her son, the Prince of Wales, is in any danger.

Pitt, a member of the working class, must navigate a web of secrets and lies and the unspoken code of conduct practiced by those in high society. He must do all of this without betraying himself as being on a mission for the queen.

Because his mission is top secret and most sensitive in nature, Pitt is unable to confide in his wife, Charlotte as telling her would run the risk of putting her life in danger and exposing his mission. But Charlotte has other ideas and, along with her sister Emily, she decides to take matters into her own hands. The two women, familiar with society and all of its intrigues, do some investigating of their own in order to help Pitt.

With the previous head of Special Branch Victor Narraway out of the country, Pitt must resort to using the sensitive information left in his mentor's personal files as leverage to get the information he needs. This leads him on a path of introspection, causing him to wonder if he really is cut out for the job.

"Murder on the Serpentine" is the 32nd and last in the best-selling Charlotte and Pitt series by Perry. Although last in the series, it will not be the last of the Pitts. The historical mystery novels will pick up in the year 1910, when a new generation becomes involved.

There is no swearing or foul language in the book. Although there are some descriptive scenes of violence, they is brief, not gratuitous and essential to the storyline. There are no overt descriptions of sex, but there are allusions to sex.

Jennifer Lambert is a freelance writer and editor in Provo, UT. Email her at jmaddenorama@gmail.com

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