Ballantine, March 2002, 25.00, 336 pp.
In late nineteenth England, it is not the monarchy or parliament who rules the country but a clandestine organization known to only a few as the Inner Circle. Thomas Pitt, a Metropolitan Street policeman, once tangled with a member of that group and for his effort was fired from his position as the superintendent of the Bow Street Station. When he was able to neutralize his enemy Queen Victoria reinstated him.
Unfortunately, his enemy was able to hold on to his power and thus pulled strings to force the transfer of Pitt from Bow Street to Special Branch, an organization involved in guarding England's from her enemies. Pitt is assigned the task of neutralizing his old enemy who is running for a seat in the House of Commons. The former superintendent knows that if he wants to keep his wife and children safe, he must succeed in his assignment and do it before his enemy has a more powerful base than he already has.
Anne Perry, the leading writer of Victorian mysteries, has published her best work to date in SOUTHAMPTON ROW. It is as much a political thriller as it is a Victorian historical mystery. The details of the era are so detailed and colorful, that it feels as if the author actually lived in that period. The mystery is complex and creative but the most fascinating part of the book is the political picture Perry paints for her audience that turn a potent tale into a masterpiece.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner