book review: Buckingham Palace Gardens, by Anne Perry

murder AND class rivalry: oh my!

A friend gave me this on my last trip, and I just finished it on the bus from NYC to Washington DC. A century or so ago, four men with their wives are gathered at Buckingham Palace to discuss a massive infrastructure investment with the Prince. One morning, a prostitute is found murdered in a closet. Thomas Pitt, working class detective now risen to Special Services (or something of that sort), is called in.

Ups: The mystery is interesting, and every time I thought it was solved, I was wrong. Overlaying the mystery is a massive amount of class insecurity and reflection from the servants to the working class individuals like Pitt.

Downs: Elsa, one of the wives, spends a lot of time ruminating about love in a not very interesting way. I daresay Perry could have left some of that in Elsa’s unobserved mind.

I enjoyed it, but I doubt I’ll rush out to read more Anne Perry. I admit that I enjoy the simplicity of Agatha Christie’s mysteries, very focused on the mystery itself and less on the people. Perhaps that makes them lesser “literature,” but it allows them to fill one purpose very well, which is what I seek from them.

Note on content: No sexually explicit scenes, but there was a party in the palace the night before the prostitute was murdered, and – despite Pitt’s disapproval – he must ask some carefully phrased questions. A bit of gore at the crime scenes. Grotesque classism on display.