So-Hum in SoHo

Adead man found on the steps of one of Victorian London’s most fashionable homes kicks off the 19th mystery featuring Superintendent Thomas Pitt of the Bow Street Police Station and his clever wife, Charlotte.

Although General Brandon Balantyne denies knowing the shabbily dressed man, his snuffbox was found in the dead man’s pocket. Since he’s dealing with his betters in class-conscious Victorian Britain, Pitt must tread carefully as he delves into the dead man’s past in hopes of finding a connection.

“Bedford Square” is a story which promises much but delivers little. There’s much talk about class differences — Pitt’s constable assistant is nearly blinded in his anger against the upper classes — and in Pitt’s investigation of what turns out to be a nasty wide-ranging blackmail plot, we are repeatedly told that the victims are all pure in character and how the least revelation, no matter how false, will blast their reputations so utterly that it becomes tedious. The solution to the mystery is extremely disappointing: neither making much sense, nor is it in keeping with what we know of the characters. A disappointing book to someone who wondered what all the shouting was about.