Buckingham Palace Gardens
Ballantine, Mar 2008, $26.00
In 1893, the Prince of Wales invites four affluent businessmen and their wives to Buckingham Palace to discuss a proposal to construct a Pan Africa rail line. After the ladies turn in for the night the Prince offers special entertainment to the male quartet. The next morning a servant finds a mutilated corpse in a closet. The deceased was part of the previous night’s entertainment.
Special Services Branch agent Thomas Pitt is assigned to solve the murder without bringing unneeded attention to the Royals. He is accompanied by his wife Charlotte and their maid Gracie Phipps, who goes undercover as part of the staff. With the help of the two females, Thomas eliminates the entire huge staff as suspects. Instead he focuses on the prince himself and his eight guests although the sleuth fears if it turns out to be the heir or if he fails to solve the case, the monarchy could be in trouble.
This is a superb Victorian mystery as Anne Perry brings alive the era through the investigation inside Buckingham and the increasing question of why a monarchy in the modern age. The story line is fast-paced as Thomas understands fully what failure could mean while the two women working for him add depth to the whodunit. Fans of the series will fully appreciate the latest tale even of knowledge of history ironically eliminates one of the nine suspects.