This week’s mystery is another well-researched, suspenseful novel by Anne Perry in her Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series which takes place in Victorian England: The Angel Court Affair. Commander Thomas Pitt of Special Branch has his hands full. A former English woman, now considered a saint in Spain, is returning to England to preach her controversial doctrine of love and forgiveness and Pitt is assigned to protect her from possible violence and the British government from any ensuing embarrassment.
Sofia Delacruz, blasphemous in the eyes of many, is a down-to-earth saint travelling with a few followers and staying temporarily in Angel Court. There is also some concern that Sofia may have aided and might be protecting a political fugitive from Spain. The news reporter, Frank Laurence, is dogging Pitt to gain information for his provocative articles. When Thomas tells Charlotte about his assignment, she insists on attending the first sermon as she is curious to learn more about this new message and hopes Sophia’s message will be more inspiring than her local minister.
Among Sofia’s followers there is devotion, piety, protectiveness, along with some ambition and dissension. The latter, is mostly between the two men in her entourage, and when Sofia and two of her female disciples vanish overnight in a manner which seems to be voluntary, one, Melville Smith is ready and willing to take over with a slightly tamer message than Sofia’s. While Pitt and his investigators try to trace the saint, tensions build, not the least of which are within Pitt’s own household where Charlotte and Jemima are having serious discussions of a philosophical/religious nature, and Daniel is also sorting through ideas of principals. When the bodies of the two female followers are found brutally murdered, Pitt becomes all too aware that what began as a planned disappearance with some unknown purpose has turned into something with ruthless undercurrents, that time to rescue Sofia is running short, and motives are more complicated than he originally thought or ever could have imagined.
This is one of Perry’s more fascinating stories as it weaves in true international events that affected Britain, Spain and the U.S. in the late 19th century, and highlights the unease both within and between those countries. Her saint raises interesting issues and highlights a complacency and disinterest in religion exemplified by Pitt, who has grave uncertainties about the faith his mother displayed, the content he derives from the Bible, and the lively discussions his family enters into. There is the return of favourite characters which include Charlotte’s great-aunt, Lady Vespasia, and her newly-acquired husband, Victor Narraway, the former head of special branch and Pitt’s former boss, the able Brundage of Pitt’s team. An extremely compelling read. * * * * *
If you, too, are a fan of mysteries, I hope you’ll not only enjoy my Monday posts but will contribute by publishing your own Monday Mystery, mentioning my meme, then come to my blog, comment on your mystery (or mine) briefly, and include the link directly to your mystery review. You can also copy my MMM badge to your post. Hope you join in the fun!