Yet another entry in the "Wish I'd Liked It Better" Department. I've been hitting a lot of those lately, usually because I trusted "recommendations" from a reliable source. In this case, Tom Nolan's compilation of 2020's "best" mysteries. Really, Tom?
It's the third entry in Anne Perry's series of novels featuring young earnest lawyer Daniel Pitt; he's the son of Thomas Pitt, who has a 32-book series! There are numerous references to occurrences (I assume) in those previous books, but that's par for the course, and didn't bother me that much.
It's set in 1910 England, and Daniel is wheedled by a young woman into defending her petty criminal boyfriend against a murder charge; the forensic evidence seems to say that he bashed in the skull of another criminal while robbing a warehouse, then set a fire to cover things up.
This sounds dubious, but Daniel enlists the daughter of his firm's head, Miriam, to importune a well-known forensic scientist to testify that the damage to the victim's skull could have been caused by the extreme heat of the fire; skull bones have been known to crack in such conflagrations. Reasonable doubt is established, the boyfriend goes free…
Only to wind up dead in exactly the same way. And this time, the girlfriend is accused of the crime. And demands that Daniel defend her.
And this is when Daniel smells a rat. About time.
I found Anne Perry's style in this book irritating and repetitious. Mostly it's people talking to each other. Which is fine, but interspersed between the dialog lines are lengthy descriptions of mental states: Why did they say that? What do they think about what they just heard? What did they look like when they said it? How should they respond? This way? No, that wouldn't be proper, how about this?
And then the next bit of speech is uttered. C'mon, Anne. Just tell me what they said.
I also found the plotting to be sloppy and not particularly believable. (Perhaps I'm cranky, because I came up with a theory of what was "really going on"; which turned out to be totally wrong.)
Anne Perry is a best-selling novelist with legions of fans. So your mileage may differ. She's not my cup of tea.
(Oh, yeah, did I mention the tea? I swear, there are more words devoted to tea in this book than to crime-solving.)