It is late one night in Buckingham Palace, and Queen Victoria's eldest son, affectionately known as Bertie, has been up to his usual pranks. The aging Prince of Wales, who, like our own Prince Charles, has been waiting all his life to inherit the throne from Mummy, has spent a typically debauched evening with some male cronies, topping off hours of drinking by inviting a few prostitutes into the Palace. Nothing unusual about that, except that this time, one of the women is found the next morning in the linen cupboard - not sleeping, but slashed and very dead, having bled all over Victoria's monogrammed sheets.
Terrified that word might leak out and cause a highly embarrassing scandal, the Palace calls on Thomas Pitt of the Special Branch to solve the murder, quickly and discreetly. The problem is, there is a surfeit of suspects. Sleeping over at the Palace the night of the murder were not only Bertie's male cronies, but their wives and personal servants. And as if this weren't enough, Pitt's investigation is further complicated by the special connection that the Prince and his male comrades share: the secret planning of a Cape Town to Cairo railroad that will span the African continent and insure the hegemony of the British Empire. The builders of this railroad are set to make a lot of money, so hidden rivalries among the players run deep. Deep enough to lead to murder? Perhaps, but Pitt must figure out the connection between the Prince of Wales, his railroad cronies, and a murdered prostitute. His intuitions are brilliant but no one in the Palace is helping him, and if word of the murder leaks out, Pitt will take the fall.
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"Perry does a nice job with some plot twists, even if most readers will quickly discount the heir to the throne of England as a viable suspect." - Publishers Weekly.
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Anne Perry, born Juliet Marion Hulme in Blackheath, London, is the author of the Thomas Pitt series. Among Anne Perry's novels featuring Thomas and Charlotte Pitt are The Whitechapel Conspiracy, Half Moon Street, Bedford Square, Brunswick Gardens, and Ashworth Hall. She also writes the popular novels featuring Victorian private investigator William Monk - among them, Funeral in Blue, Slaves of Obsession, The Twisted Root, A Breach of Promise, and The Silent Cry. "Her grasp of Victorian character and conscience still astonishes," said the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Perry won an Edgar award in 2000 with her short story "Heroes". The main character in the story features in an ambitious five-book series set during the First World War.
Anne Perry lives in Scotland.
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