Anne Perry's acclaimed Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels have made London's exclusive world of wealth and power an addictive literary destination for readers everywhere. This new masterpiece, a haunting story of love and treason, invites us not only into the secret places of Britain's power but also into the innermost sanctums of the fin de siecle Austro-Hungarian Empire. Thomas Pitt, once a lowly policeman, is now the powerful head of Britain's Special Branch, and some people fear that he may have been promoted beyond his abilities. He, too, feels painful moments of self-doubt, especially as rumors reach him of a plot to blow up connections on the Dover-London rail line-on which Austrian duke Alois Habsburg is soon to travel to visit his royal English kin. Why would anyone destroy an entire train to kill one obscure Austrian royal, or are the rumors designed to distract Pitt from an even more devastating plot? He must resolve this riddle at once, before the damage is done. Meanwhile, in a London sickroom, an old Italian woman-at the end of a romantic career as a revolutionary spy-is terrified that as she sinks into dementia, she may divulge secrets that can kill. And a beautiful young Croatian woman, married to a British power broker, hoards her own mysteries. Apparently all roads lead to the Continent, and Pitt suspects that between them these two fascinating women could tell him things he desperately needs to know. But as the hours tick by, it seems that the only woman Pitt can count on is his clever wife, Charlotte. No one sustains mesmerizing suspense better than Anne Perry. In Pitt's trial by fire, his wrenching moral dilemma, and his electrifying moment of decision, the beloved bestselling author gives us a climax never to be forgotten. From the Hardcover edition.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
April 03, 2012
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Dorchester Terrace by Anne Perry
It was mid-february and growing dark outside. Pitt stood up from his desk and walked over to turn the gas up on the wall lamps one by one. He was becoming used to this office, even if he was not yet comfortable in it. In his mind it still belonged to Victor Narraway.
When he turned back to his desk he half expected to see the pencil drawings of bare trees that Narraway used to keep on the walls, instead of the watercolors of skies and seascapes that Charlotte had given him. His books were not so different from Narraway's. There was less poetry, fewer classics perhaps, but similar titles on history, politics, and law.
Narraway had of course taken with him the large, silver-framed picture of his mother. Today, Pitt had finally put in its place his favorite photograph of his family. In it, Charlotte is smiling; beside her stands thirteen-year-old Jemima, looking very grown-up, and ten-year-old Daniel, still with the soft face of a child.
After the fiasco in Ireland at the end of last year, 1895, Narraway had not been reinstated as head of Special Branch, though he had been exonerated of all charges, of course. Instead, Pitt's temporary status as head had been made official. Even though it had happened several months earlier, he still found it hard to get used to. And he knew very well that the men who had once been his superiors, then his equals, and now his juniors, also found the new situation trying at best. Rank, in and of itself, meant little. His title commanded obedience, but not loyalty.
So far they had obeyed him without question. But he had had several months of very predictable events to deal with. There had been only the usual rumblings of discontent among the various immigrant populations, particularly here in London, but no crises. None of the difficult situations that endangered lives and tested his judgment. If such a crisis were to occur, it was then, he suspected, that he might find his men's trust in him strained and tenuous.
Pitt stopped by the window, staring out at the pattern of the opposite rooftops and the elegant wall of the nearby building, just able to discern their familiar outlines in the fading light. The bright gleam of streetlamps was increasing in all directions.
He pictured Narraway's grave face as it had been when they last spoke: tired and deeply lined, the effect of his difficult escape from total disgrace and from the emotional toll of his experiences in Ireland. Pitt knew that Narraway had accepted, at last, the existence of his feelings for Charlotte; but as always, Victor's coal-black eyes had given little away as they talked.
"You will make mistakes," he had said to Pitt in the quietness of this room, with its view of sky and rooftops. "You will hesitate to act when you know it could hurt people or destroy a life. Do not hesitate too long. You will misjudge people; you've always thought better of your social superiors than you should have. For God's sake, Pitt, rely on your instincts. Sometimes the results of your decisions will be serious. Live with it. The measure of your worth is what you learn from the errors you make. You cannot opt out; that would be the worst mistake of all." His face had been grim, shadowed by memories. "It is not only the decision you make that counts, but that you make it at the right moment. Anything that threatens the peace and safety of Britain can come under your jurisdiction."
Narraway had not added "God help you," though he might as well have. Then a dry humor had softened his eyes for a moment. Pitt had seen a flicker of compassion there for the burden that lay ahead, and also a hint of envy, regret for the excitement lost, the pounding of the blood and the fire of the mind that Narraway was being forced to give up.
Of course, Pitt had seen him since then, but only briefly. There had been social events here and there, conversations that were polite, but devoid of meaning beyond the courtesies. The questions as to how each of them was learning to bend, to adapt and alter his stride to a new role, remained unspoken.
Pitt sat down again at his desk and turned his attention to the papers in front of him.
There was a brief knock on the door.
"Come in," he said.
The door opened at once, and Stoker entered. Thanks to the events in Ireland, he was the one man in the Branch that Pitt knew for certain he could trust.
"Yes?" he said as Stoker came to stand in front of Pitt's desk. He looked worried and uncomfortable, his lean face more expressive than usual.