DORCHESTER TERRACE revolves around the protagonist of the story Thomas Pitt who helms the mighty rank of Britain’s special branch at the apprehension of several dilemmas about his abilities. Anne Perry, besides many feathers in her hat is the best selling author of two acclaimed series set in Victorian England: the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels, including Midnight at Marble Arch and Dorchester Terrace.
With the backdrop of Victorian England, the story opens with Pitt being promoted as head of Special Branch, replacing Victor Narraway after the fiasco in Ireland at the end of 1895. Pitt has been characterized as a decent, disciplined and responsible man, whose passion towards his work is raising several brows about its credibility. His own self-doubt is fuelled by rumours of a plot to blow up connections on the Dover-London rail line, on which Austrian duke Alois Habsburg is soon to travel. Stoker, another official of the special branch is carrying out the operation of unveiling the truth until assistance ensues from Narraway too who applauds Pitt for his high-headed position. But why destroy an entire train to kill one obscure Austrian royal? Meanwhile, in a London sickroom, an old Italian woman is terrified that as she sinks into dementia, she may divulge secrets from her career as a revolutionary spy. Serafina Monsterat is the character who occupies a marginal space of the book but plays a pivotal role in the development of the plot. An adulterous affair, unmasking of relationships and treason involved the characters of Serafina and Tregarron’s father several decades preceding Pitt’s era. And behind the doors of a stately manor, was the avenue to several mysteries.
Thomas Pitt’s character has often been compared to Jack, who is the husband of Emily just as the two sisters, Charlotte and Emily have been contrasted in matter of their looks, dress, lifestyles and husbands. An eerie air of status conscience and differences seem to enshroud the relationships of the two sisters. The strained relationship continues until the end of the story, where Jack and Pitt join hands to straighten the affairs that involve the main culprit of the story, Lord Tregarron. The characters of Thomas Pitt and Charlotte are well-portrayed, coloured with various nuances and dealt emphatically to depict enough love and understanding in their togetherness. Anne Perry writes, “for more than fourteen years they had been friends, as well as husband and wife. He kept all manner of secrets from the government, the police and the general population, but he kept only the most specific, confidential details from her.”
The plot of the story is entwined with soft, light motion at the beginning doling out significant twists with the characters of Serafina Monsterrat, Lord Tregarron, Vespasia and the Duke. There are few minor characters whose portrayal lack justice. They are related to the main events but are not provided the different shades. Through the continuous unwrapping of events, truth is finally revealed before Pitt who succeeds in foiling Tregaron’s relentless attempt to murder the Duke by trading a deal. On the whole, the book is a good read.