Anne Perry s Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mysteries are perhaps the best loved of all her Victorian bestsellers, luring us into the multilayered richness of London, from the great mansions and secluded drawing rooms to the city s festering slums. Now, in her most mesmerizing novel yet, she invites us to a house party at Buckingham Palace. The Prince of Wales has asked four wealthy entrepreneurs and their wives to the palace to discuss a fantastic idea: the construction of a six thousand mile railroad that would stretch the full length of Africa. But, alas, the prince s gathering proves disastrous when the mutilated body of a prostitute hired for a late night frolic (after the wives have retired to bed) turns up among the queen s monogrammed sheets in a palace linen closet.With great haste, Thomas Pitt, brilliant mainstay of Special Services, is summoned to resolve the crisis. The Pitts cockney maid, Gracie, is also recruited to pose as a palace servant and listen in on the guests conversations, scan their bedrooms, and scrutinize their troubled faces for clues to hidden rivalries and attachments that could have lead to murder. If Pitt and Gracie fail to find out who brutally murdered the young woman as seems increasingly likely Pitt s career will be over, and the scandal may just cause the monarchy to fall.With a cast of wonderful characters, among them the gentle Princess of Wales, and a twisting plot that takes us into the hidden world of the royal family, Anne Perry probes deeply the hearts of men and women ensnared by their own emotions. Never has this distinguished novelist told a story with more truth and passion.