I was delighted to find several books by Anne Perry in a bag of books given to me by a friend a few months ago. This is a 2003 mystery in the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series, a favorite series of mine. They are set in 19th century London, and as a bonus, this one also has Thomas Pitt being sent to Alexandria, Egypt so the reader gets a good idea of what Egypt was like at that time as well. Perry portrays these settings so well, I'm amazed at her ability to set the scene without sounding like a travelogue.
Her characters are rightfully beloved ones among Anne Perry fans. Charlotte and Thomas especially with their loving marriage and comfortable, if not plush, home. Their maid Gracie is very funny, but a strong woman who surprises herself with her strength. Great-Aunt Vespasia is a character I love. She reminds me of a good-natured version of the dowager countess in Downton Abbey.
The mystery is difficult to figure out, for me anyway. An Egyptian woman living in London is found in her garden at 3 a.m. trying to dispose of the body of a man and the gun that killed him, which happens to be her gun. Her current lover is also at the scene; he is a cabinet minister, Member of Parliament for Manchester. It's all a huge scandal and Pitt's job is to solve the mystery but keep the cabinet minister out of it if he possibly can. An impossible task but he is now with Special Branch and must do as he is ordered.
I recommend this novel, and for that matter the entire series.