- Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
In my review of Anne Perry’s “Acceptable Loss”(link: www.huntingtonnews.net/7902) I said it was a sequel to “Execution Dock”, a 2009 William Pitt novel by Perry. This is true, but in the complicated world of Perry, one sequel isn’t enough, hence her new novel “Blind Justice” (Ballantine Books, 352 pages, $26.00) featuring William and Hester Pitt, their adopted street boy Scuff and their friend Sir Oliver Rathbone.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Complicated novels — even uncomplicated novels — benefit from a front-of-the book cast of characters. “Blind Justice” is a perfect example, because it re-introduces characters from previous William Pitt novels. From my earlier-this-year review of Lauren Carr’s “Blast from the Past”: “‘Blast from the Past’ features a front-of-book cast of characters, making it much easier for readers — and reviewers — to make their way through the book without unnecessary back-paging to dope out who’s who. Every mystery should have a cast of characters.”
Now elevated to a judgeship at Old Bailey, Sir Oliver is a brilliant lawyer who has achieved the peak of success in the legal profession, only to have a miserable home life. Despite his acknowledged brilliance as the “best lawyer in England,” Sir Oliver is plagued by his poor decisions. His decision to defend his father-in-law Arthur Ballinger — and the outcome of that unfortunate decision has led to his estrangement from Ballinger’s daughter and Sir Oliver’s wife, Margaret.
Sir Oliver isn’t the only one who rushes in where others stop to consider the consequences: Hester Monk’s decision to investigate the finances of charismatic preacher Abel Taft leads to Sir Oliver’s presiding over a fraud trial and his decision to turn over incriminating evidence to one side of the trial but not the other leads to his being charged with a serious legal ethics violation. He’s imprisoned and stands in the dock at Old Bailey — the very court where he very recently presided as judge.
William and Hester Monk — and Scuff — are not people to stand idly by when a friend is in peril, so they investigate the deaths of Abel Taft, his wife and their two teen-age daughters. This investigation could put William Monk’s position as commander of the river police in jeopardy, so caution is needed. The Monks live comfortably, with servants and a nice house, but he depends on his salary to support his family.
I won’t give away any more plot points in this novel, which ranks among the best the 75-year-old Perry has written. Her courtroom scenes have the realism of Scott Turow, the master of contemporary legal thrillers — along with richly portrayed details of life in London in the mid 1860s.
About the Author
Anne Perry is the bestselling author of two acclaimed series set in Victorian England: the William Monk novels, including Execution Dock and Dark Assassin, and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels, including Treason at Lisson Grove and Buckingham Palace Gardens. She is also the author of a series of five World War I novels, as well as eleven holiday novels, most recently A Christmas Hope (my review:www.huntingtonnews.net/76597), and a historical novel, The Sheen on the Silk, set in the Ottoman Empire. She lives in Scotland. Her website:www.anneperry.co.uk
Publisher’s website: www.ballantinebooks.com