Synopses & Reviews
It is late one night in Buckingham Palace, and Queen Victoria's eldest son, affectionately known as Bertie, has been up to his usual pranks. The aging Prince of Wales, who, like our own Prince Charles, has been waiting all his life to inherit the throne from Mummy, has spent a typically debauched evening with some male cronies, topping off hours of drinking by inviting a few prostitutes into the Palace. Nothing unusual about that, except that this time, one of the women is found the next morning in the linen cupboard - not sleeping, but slashed and very dead, having bled all over Victoria's monogrammed sheets.
Terrified that word might leak out and cause a highly embarrassing scandal, the Palace calls on Thomas Pitt of the Special Branch to solve the murder, quickly and discreetly. The problem is, there is a surfeit of suspects. Sleeping over at the Palace the night of the murder were not only Bertie's male cronies, but their wives and personal servants. And as if this weren't enough, Pitt's investigation is further complicated by the special connection that the Prince and his male comrades share: the secret planning of a Cape Town to Cairo railroad that will span the African continent and insure the hegemony of the British Empire. The builders of this railroad are set to make a lot of money, so hidden rivalries among the players run deep. Deep enough to lead to murder? Perhaps, but Pitt must figure out the connection between the Prince of Wales, his railroad cronies, and a murdered prostitute. His intuitions are brilliant but no one in the Palace is helping him, and if word of the murder leaks out, Pitt will take the fall.
The Prince of Wales has asked four wealthy entrepreneurs and their elegant wives to the palace to discuss a fantastic idea: the construction of a six-thousand-mile railroad that would stretch the full length of Africa. But alas, the prince's gathering proves disastrous when the mutilated body of a prostitute hired for a late-night frolic (after the wives have retired to bed) turns up among the queen's monogrammed sheets in a palace linen closet.With great haste, Thomas Pitt, brilliant mainstay of Special Services, is summoned to resolve the crisis. The Pitts? cockney maid, Gracie, is also recruited - to pose as a palace servant and listen in on the guests? conversations, scan their bedrooms, and scrutinize their troubled faces for clues to hidden rivalries and attachments that could have led to murder. If Pitt and Gracie fail to find out who brutally murdered the young woman - as seems increasingly likely ? Pitt's career will be over, and the scandal may just cause the monarchy to fall.With a cast of wonderful characters, among them the gentle Princess of Wales, and a twisting plot that takes us into the hidden world of the royal family, Anne Perry probes deeply the hearts of men and women ensnared by their emotions.