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Twenty-One Days: A Daniel Pitt Novel


Twenty-One Days: A Daniel Pitt Novel

Anne Perry is not one to rest on her laurels. You might think that a mature writer who has penned two highly successful series --- one featuring Charlotte and Thomas Pitt, and the other with William Monk --- would just continue to ride those out until she officially retires. Not so with Ms. Perry!

Set in the year 1910, about a decade after the most recent Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novel, TWENTY-ONE DAYS is the opening installment of a new series. Ironically, this one features Daniel Pitt, Charlotte and Thomas’ 25-year-old son, who graduated law school and is now a proud junior barrister at a top London law firm. This is an ingenious move by Perry, who is able not only to feature a “time-jump” from her other series but also to continue her reputation for tackling serious social and ethical issues, now through the eyes of a much younger protagonist.

At the start of the novel, we find Daniel defending a family friend and former colleague of his father, Roman Blackwell, who is on trial for murder. Blackwell jokes with Daniel that he is so cynical for a 25-year-old, to which he responds that it comes from being a lawyer. As Daniel is working his magic in the Blackwell trial, he is visited by one of the top attorneys from his firm, the very difficult Toby Kitteridge.

"[Perry] uses her reputation not only to introduce a new series late in her career, but also to elevate it to new heights that will surely leave her fans feeling just as enthusiastic about it as I do."

Kitteridge demands that Daniel join him on the defense team for a man named Russell Graves, a biographer by profession who is on trial for his life as the primary suspect in his wife’s brutal murder. Daniel is able to wrap things up on the Blackwell case in time to join Kitteridge on the first day of the Graves trial. He is getting this chance at the big time due to another barrister from the firm being injured in a traffic accident. After meeting Graves, Daniel learns why he was such an easy target for the prosecution to go after. He is gruff, uncaring, distant and shows no remorse --- even though he remains staunch in his claim that he is innocent. The problem is that the defense cannot find any other possible suspect to blame, and the nature of the crime --- his wife was not only strangled but set on fire --- is enough to turn any jury against him.

Daniel is attempting to learn and do his best, while Kitteridge seems more concerned with not losing than saving his client from the noose. Alas, in spite of their defense, the jury finds Graves guilty and the judge promptly sentences him to be hanged in 21 days. To Daniel and Kitteridge, this means less than three weeks to get to the bottom of the case and find the real killer. As they begin to dig into Graves’ background to figure out who might have it in for him, things take a startling turn that becomes a major conflict of interest for young Daniel. It seems that the book Graves was working on was an exposé of Victor Narraway, the late head of the London Special Branch and former boss/mentor of Thomas Pitt. How can Daniel mount a line of defense to save his client’s life if it ruins his father and smears the leadership of the Special Branch in the process?

Things lead to a tense and uncomfortable meeting between Daniel and his father, where he must walk the fine line between defense attorney and son. Just when it appears that he will have no way out of this seemingly no-win situation, a startling revelation rocks the defense team and the appeal trial is about to become a zoo, the likes of which no one involved has ever seen before. I won't be the one to reveal this twist; let me just say that it is completely unexpected and the kind only a master plotter like Anne Perry could have thought up.

There is a wealth of opportunity for Perry to mine in future installments of the series. Other writers of her acclaim might choose to phone it in and take the easy paycheck by merely allowing her name on the cover to serve as the sole reason for people to buy it. In the case of TWENTY-ONE DAYS, this couldn’t be further from the truth as she uses her reputation not only to introduce a new series late in her career, but also to elevate it to new heights that will surely leave her fans feeling just as enthusiastic about it as I do.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on April 27, 2018

Twenty-One Days: A Daniel Pitt Novel
by Anne Perry