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    Review of SEVEN DIALS by Anne Perry (see her website)

    Ballantine, February 2003

    When a diplomat is found murdered, it is obvious who killed him--the foreign woman whose gun lies smoking next to his body. The British Special Service is called in not to find the killer, but to protect her lover, M.P. Ryerson. The government's relationship with its Egyptian 'protectorate' has been uneasy and Ryerson is the one man in a position to balance the Empire's interests. Detective Thomas Pitt might not like his job, but he's got to do it. Except that nothing about this case is exactly what it appears to be.

    While Pitt is looking for the truth behind the obvious, his servant Gracie and wife Charlotte are investigating a completely different, but equally baffling problem. The brother of one of Gracie's friends has disappeared, forgetting his sister's birthday and his other obligations. With no clear case for the police, Charlotte turns to her aristocratic relatives to dig beneath society's veneer to learn the nasty secrets that are known but never spoken of.

    Author Anne Perry (see more reviews of novels by Perry) has created a rich view of Victorian England and Empire. The brief view of Alexandria, Egypt depicts the exotic wonder of this ancient land while Perry also shows a sympathetic eye to the caste-ridden society of England itself. The coincidence that Charlotte's investigation merges with Pitt's is a bit far-fetched, but does not really marr the power of this story.

    Pitt, his boss Narraway, and Pitt's aunt Vespasia are especially complex and interesting characters while Gracie provides a comic touch. SEVEN DIALS is entertaining and, for all its century-old setting, raises issues that remain current.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 2/13/03

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