Review of A Question of Betrayal by Anne Perry

A thoroughly enjoyable new series from Anne Perry…

I’ve long enjoyed Anne Perry’s Charlotte and Thomas Pitt books, so I was thrilled to be offered a chance to read a review copy of the second title in her new Elena Standish series, A Question of Betrayal

Betrayal has a different feel than the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series – it has many elements that were more like a thriller (or maybe a romantic suspense tale) than a “straight” murder mystery.   There are spies, and double agents, and political agendas, and secret plots, and money laundering.  But I’m not usually a big fan of thrillers, and yet I really liked this book.   Part of why I liked it so much, I think, is that Perry does a great job of melding the big-picture historical background, which we all pretty much know about, since it’s set between WWI and WII, with the specific background for this story.  And her characters, whether fictional or real, fit nicely and believably into their places.   I also especially liked the parts of the book that were set in Trieste, a complicated city that I’ve become more interested in since reading a history of Venice and the Adriatic in which Trieste often appeared. 

Another reason I liked it is that it’s more elegant than most thrillers, and doesn’t depend mainly on feats of unbelievable physical prowess – although I still love Where Eagles Dare!   Instead it relies more on the subtlety of relationships and differing points of view.    Perry manages to keep multiple threads going throughout the book:  Elena and her mission to Trieste; Elena’s grandfather and his former school friend/MI6 colleague; and Elena’s sister, Margot, and her visit to Germany for her friend’s wedding – to a German officer.  She does this without letting things become confusing, and then she ties them up nicely in the end.   And, of course, there are a few murders to solve as well!     

On the down side, I only have one small niggle – I wish I had read the first book in the series first.   Perry does do a pretty good job of filling in what background is necessary, but I just had occasional moments throughout the book when I felt as if I might be missing something I was supposed to know.    In the end, I don’t think I actually was missing anything too vital, but if you have a choice, I think I’d recommend reading the first one first.

All-in-all though, A Question of Betrayal was a thoroughly enjoyable book, and I very much look forward to going back and reading the first one. I also hope there will be more coming in the series!  And my thanks again to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for the review copy.

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