Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Death with a Double Edge by Anne Perry
Series: Daniel Pitt #4
Published by Ballantine on April 13, 2021
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
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Daniel Pitt’s investigation into his colleague’s murder leads him through London’s teeming underbelly to the suspicious dealings of one of England’s most influential shipbuilding magnates in a thrilling novel from New York Times bestselling author Anne Perry.
When junior barrister Daniel Pitt is summoned to the scene of a murder in the London district known as Mile End, he knows only that the victim is a senior barrister from the same firm. To Daniel’s relief, it is not his close friend Toby Kitteridge, but the question remains: What was this respected colleague doing in such a rough part of the city? The firm’s head, Marcus fford Croft, may know more than he admits, but fford Croft’s memory is not what it used to be, and his daughter, Miriam—Daniel’s friend and sometime sidekick—isn’t in the country to offer her usual help. And so Daniel and Kitteridge must investigate on their own, lest the police uncover something that may cast a suspicious light on the firm.
Their inquiries in Mile End lead them to a local brothel and to an opium den, but also—unexpectedly—to a wealthy shipbuilder crucial to Britain’s effort to build up its fleet, which may soon face the fearsome naval might of Germany. Daniel finds his path blocked by officials at every turn, his investigation so unwelcome that even his father, Special Branch head Thomas Pitt, receives a chilling warning from a powerful source. Suddenly, not just Daniel but his whole family—including his beloved mother, Charlotte—is in danger. Will Daniel’s devotion to justice be the undoing of his entire life, and endanger Britain’s defense at sea? As ever, the fates of family and history are inextricably intertwined in this spellbinder from Anne Perry
The inexplicable murder of one of the firm’s best lawyers, in the seedy East End, has Daniel and the others scrambling to find out the truth because more than the firm’s reputation is riding on it. Each new installment in the series has me eager to see how young, intrepid Daniel Pitt will beat the odds and get to the truth as danger mounts.
Death With a Double Edge is the fourth of the Daniel Pitt series which is a spinoff series of the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series. These are standalone mysteries, but there is a series arc that builds the character and relationships as the series progresses.
I love that the author has written this next generation series to continue the legacy of Charlotte and Thomas Pitt by following the career of their son, Daniel. Rather than law enforcement, Daniel has gone into law and is a junior barrister at a prestigious law firm. He is young enough to need to prove himself to his parents, to his boss, Marcus, and to himself.
The death of a senior barrister at the firm places him into a position where he must investigate the death to make sure the firm isn’t implicated in some secret crime associated with the death. His investigation pits him against a powerful captain of industry in the shipbuilding world even while his father is ordered to take a hands off in the situation because the shipbuilder is building ships for the Navy.
I’ve always been impressed with how this author writes complex characters and allow the readers deep inside their psyches. Daniel is young and slowly gaining experience and wisdom. He has fears and struggles, but he is also an intelligent, tenacious person. In this book, he is faced with the possibility that a man he respects highly might be involved in something underhanded, even while he realizes that he missed an opportunity to know an amazing person in the man who died, because he allowed himself to be put off by a not-so-easy personality. Like with past books, Daniel and those who help him are up against something bigger and more powerful than he is where the safest option is to let it go. In this case, it was a blind eye being turned when those with status or power should be facing justice.
Historical backdrop is always vividly drawn so period setting, society, and culture are all a strong element. I enjoyed the update that Miriam fford Croft is off in the Netherlands getting her degree in forensic science because England didn’t offer the degree to women, but she is determined to pursue it as a career even though she is middle-aged. And, yes, there is still that whiff of affection that Daniel feels for this older, talented woman that I hope becomes more.
As to the mystery, this started slow for me. Daniel is left casting about for the right trail for a great while. He is reluctant because he fears where the trail leads, but also he has to work out which is the right trail. Once he was on it, the murder and the past leading to it seemed obvious. Though yes, there were a few surprise twists that lead to a bit of suspense near the end.
An extra treat for Thomas and Charlotte fans was that they played a strong role in this book including their own minor storylines. I liked that the author waited until the series was well established before she did this so that Daniel was already the established and welcome lead character.
All in all, this latest in the series was engaging both for character development and the mystery. Those who enjoy historical mystery with a strong leaning toward character and background development should definitely give these a try.