The Irish have the longest memories in Europe, and it's this sentiment that drives the latest Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novel from Anne Perry. TREASON AT LISSON GROVE is the 26th book featuring the Pitts, and this time out they are involved in dual mysteries that each reveals a plot to bring down the British Empire itself.
Thomas Pitt's Supervisor at the Special Branch office, Victor Narraway, sends him and fellow officer Gower in pursuit of a criminal who left a drifter bleeding to death in a London brickyard. They quickly investigate and find out that this was not a drifter but a secret informant who was about to divulge vital information about the British government.
Thomas and Gower begin a chase of the murder suspect that takes them to France. The only issue is that this may be a diversion to get them out of the way as the real plot is focused on London. Meanwhile, Narraway is exposed as being an alleged embezzler of government funds and promptly removed from office. He suspects that the reason he's being set up lies in a 20-year-old mystery involving an Irish patriot named Cormac O'Neill.
Narraway takes Charlotte with him to Ireland, posing as brother and sister. He suspects that the bitter grudge O'Neill holds over him may be the reason for his public besmirching. The problem will be getting close enough to find out. O'Neill blames Narraway for the murder of his beloved Kate 20 years earlier and the framing of another man. Narraway has always professed his innocence, but O'Neill will be hard to convince after so many years of hatred and resentment.
Things get progressively worse for both of the Pitts on their individual adventures. Thomas is turned on by Gower, who tries to kill him on a train back to London. He defends himself, killing Gower in the process, and is detained in a local jail until he's able to prove his association with the Special Branch. Upon release, he heads back to London where he finds an interim Supervisor running his department as news of Narraway's embezzlement catches him by surprise.
Back in Ireland, Charlotte is able to confront O'Neill and get his take on the grudge he holds against Narraway. His explanation seems genuine, making Charlotte begin to have doubts about him. It's only when Narraway goes to confront O'Neill, followed closely behind by Charlotte, that they come across his dead body. In an obvious attempt to set up Narraway for his murder, Charlotte must now pull out all the stops to find out who is truly behind the plot against him and find a way to free him as things in London are heating up. Will the combined efforts of the Pitts, along with Narraway, be enough not only to redeem an innocent man, but to save the Queen and the entire British Empire?
Anne Perry provides keen insight into Victorian Era London, as TREASON AT LISSON GROVE portrays the challenges of the British Empire during that time. While not one of her typical murder mysteries, it is still a well-written and entertaining novel that will appeal to readers of historical and political fiction with enough underhanded activity to keep her mystery fans happy.
Reviewed by Ray Palen on April 25, 2011