Friday, August 6, 2010

Bluegate Fields - Anne Perry

Inspector Pitt was shocked. The body was found in the filthy sewers of Bluegate Fields, one of London's most dangerous slums, but the dead boy was clearly from high society. And he had been violated before he was murdered. So vile a case was hardly a proper topic for drawing room conversation. But when the Waybournes, the boy's family, refused to answer the police's questions, Inspector Pitt began to wonder what secrets they were trying to hide. His wife and co-sleuth, Charlotte, was determined to find out--even if it meant tearing, down the facades of an oh-so-proper family....

Bluegate Fields go a bit deeper in the Victorian underworld than most of Charlotte and Pitt's stories. Unlike the previous story where Charlotte and her family took center stage, in this one it is Pitt, his boss and his young colleague who are the primary investigators. Charlotte is still a much needed figure though as she is the only one who can find the answers needed in society's salons.

The story opens with a body being found in the sewers. Called to the occurrence Pitt eventually concludes that the naked body is of a young gentleman, a teenager really, and the police doctor tells him that there is evidence of homosexual activity. And so starts an investigation that first is about who is the dead boy, and secondly what happened to him and who killed him.

There were several things that I really enjoyed about this book. There were the class distinctions that are present in every story, but here more so because we are dealing with those with the lowest status in Victorian society - the ones who sell their bodies for a few pennies. Who live in misery, either because they are born to it or because fate brought them there. After the first body is found with signs of what was then a hanging offence it was immediately obvious that almost everyone was happy to let the matter rest. How in society's eyes it was preferable to find an easy scapegoat that would allow closing the subject with relative discretion, instead of looking for the real culprit.

Pitt refuses to stop investigating, despite his superior's orders, and with Charlotte's help he eventually finds the murderer. I was disappointed in that we never have a clear idea of the victim. If he had indeed been a victim of abuse or a willing participant. And in that we never have a final confrontation with the killer. As it had happened previously I ended up asking myself if that was another cover up or indeed the real thing.

Grade: 4/5

This is my P entry for the Alphabet in Historical Fiction Challenge.

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