A bit more than just a historical mystery…
In Death with a Double Edge, author Anne Perry has created a really nice pre-WWI historical mystery featuring Daniel Pitt, the son of the protagonists (Charlotte and Thomas Pitt) in her earlier “main” series. Daniel has become a lawyer, and after the gruesomely murdered body of one of the senior partners in the firm where he works is found in a decidedly not-nice part of town, he feels compelled to investigate. Why was Jonah Drake there? Was it tied into one of his previous cases? Or was it something personal? And what does the head of Daniel’s chambers, Marcus fford Croft, know about it? Oh, and by the way, is Marcus starting to suffer from memory loss – either intentional or otherwise? Readers will enjoy following along as Daniel and one of his fellow junior lawyers try to find answers to their questions and figure out who killed Jonah, with some help from Charlotte and Thomas.
But what makes this book a bit different, and a bit more than just another historical mystery, is that Perry also riffs a little on a timeless human issue: what it means to be the son of a very successful man. One of the sons of a famous father, is, of course, Daniel Pitt himself. By the time of this spin-off series, Thomas Pitt is the head of Special Branch, and quite well known in many circles. So when, early in the book, Inspector Letterman asks Daniel if he’s related to Thomas, readers can almost feel the weariness in Daniel’s voice when he says, “my father”. But there’s also another son of a famous father in this tale – Evan Faber, who had been successfully defended by Drake in a rather notorious murder trial only a few years earlier. His father, Erasmus Faber, is a titan of the ship-building industry, which is growing in importance as pre-WWI tensions are building between Britain and Germany, and Evan struggles a bit in comparison. Evan and Daniel are both likeable as they negotiate trying to live up to their fathers.
All-in-all, Death with a Double Edge is a smooth and enjoyable read. Please keep in mind that I rarely give 5-star ratings, reserving them for a very very few books – maybe one in thirty or forty books that I read. So the 4-star rating that I’m giving Death with a Double Edge is a solid recommendation to read this book! And my thanks to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for the advance review copy.