The Angel Court Affair by Anne Perry

Description: The 30th novel in the popular series featuring Thomas and Charlotte Pitt, along with favourite characters Vespasia and Narraway.

When Commander Thomas Pitt is ordered to protect a young woman visiting London from Spain, he cannot see why this is a job for Special Branch.  When she disappears in the dead of night from Angel Court, however, he is faced with a dangerous mystery.  Sofia preached new, and some say blasphemous, religious ideals, and her life has been threatened.  But Pitt senses there is some deeper and more dangerous reason for her kidnap - if that is what it is.

Three men are caught up in the hunt for Sofia - her cousin, a banker for the Church of England, a popular and charismatic politician, and a journalist who seems determined to goad Pitt to the truth.  Each seem to be hiding something, and as the search for answers stretch from London to Spain, Pitt knows that time is running out, and the nation's security could be at stake …

The Angel Court Affair by Anne Perry is the latest in the long-running historical mystery series featuring Charlotte and Thomas Pitt. This was my first time reading Anne Perry but either the series is getting a little long in the tooth or this was not the best example of the quality of the series.

The book centers around Sofia Delacruz, an English expatriate who has returned from Spain to preach a form of the gospel that is considered either revolutionary or blasphemous depending on your perspective. Pitt, as head of Special Branch is assigned to protect her. It seems a trivial duty, but when she goes missing and two of the women who were with her are found gruesomely murdered, it is clear that more is going on than would appear on the surface. This triggers an investigation of the both the people around her, as well as her family in England and husband in Spain.

Sofia goes missing relatively early in the story, which is unfortunate as she is the most interesting character in it. Pitt’s search for her is rather pedestrian as well as political considering Sofia’s family’s status, the circumstances of her marriage in Spain, and the timing of her decision to return to England.

There is much discussion between Pitt and his wife and their children about Sofia’s message and her disappearance. The self-involvement of a former cricket star turned politician and an ambitious reporter add some intrigue, but the detecting part is fairly by the numbers. Uncovering Sofia’s real motive for coming to England is intriguing, but a lot of that is left in the hands of Charlotte’s aunt Vespasia and her husband (and Pitt’s former boss) Narraway. Vespasia and Narraway make a far more interesting couple than Charlotte and Thomas Pitt in this story.

The story is intriguing and the resolution satisfying, but the pace drags and some of the characters feel a little stagnant. In the audio version, the narration is a little flat and lacking distinction between characters. This necessitates a close listening and paying attention to context to make sure you know who is speaking.

The longevity of this series means it has a number of fans. For new readers, I would pick a different place in the series to start.

I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.

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