Twenty-One Days (Daniel Pitt #1)

Twenty-One Days (Daniel Pitt #1)

Anne Perry

About the Book

Twenty-One Days is the first in an exciting new generation of Pitt novels.

1910. Sir Thomas Pitt’s son, Daniel, is in the middle of his first case as a barrister when he is summoned to the Old Bailey for an important trial. Renowned biographer Russell Graves is charged with the brutal murder of his wife and Daniel must assist in his defence.

When the jury finds the accused guilty, Graves insists he has been framed. He is writing a shocking exposé of a powerful figure, revealing state secrets so damning that someone might well have wanted to silence him.

With the reputations of those closest to him at stake, Daniel has twenty-one days to uncover the truth and ensure that an innocent man isn’t sent to the gallows . . .

To Aviva Layton, in friendship

List of Characters

Daniel Pitt, a recently qualified barrister Roman Blackwell, a private enquiry agent and ex-policeman Sir Thomas Pitt, Daniel’s father, head of Special Branch Charlotte, Lady Pitt, Daniel’s mother Jemima, Daniel’s sister, a mother of two girls who now lives in New York Douglas Sefton, an experienced barrister Oscar Park, the main witness against Roman Blackwell Mercedes Blackwell, Roman Blackwell’s mother Marcus fford Croft, head of fford Croft and Gibson Miriam fford Croft, his daughter

Apperly, a clerk at fford Croft and Gibson Dunham, a junior barrister at fford Croft and Gibson, injured in a motor accident Toby Kitteridge, a senior barrister at fford Croft and Gibson Mrs Portiscale, Daniel’s landlady

Dr Octavius Ottershaw, a fingerprint expert Major Lydden, a prosecution witness Russell Graves, a biographer, charged with killing his wife Ebony Graves, his dead wife

Sarah Graves, his daughter

Arthur Graves, his son

Alister Tranmere, King’s Counsel, prosecuting the Graves case Impney, chief clerk at fford Croft and Gibson Falthorne, Graves’ butler

Mrs Warlaby, Graves’ housekeeper

Mrs Hanslope, Graves’ cook

Salcombe, an elderly gardener at Graves’ house Miss Purbright, Ebony’s lady’s maid Joe, the bootboy at Graves’ house

Bessie, kitchen maid at Graves’ house Maisie, housemaid at Graves’ house Yeats, the Pitts’ manservant

Membury, the fford Crofts’ butler

Winifred Graves, Russell Graves’ first wife Mrs Wilson, a trusted ally of Ebony’s Grisewood, a barrister

Dr French, a police surgeon

Chapter One

They were alone in the small room where the accused was allowed to be visited by his lawyer.

‘They’ll hang me, won’t they?’ Roman Blackwell’s soft voice was almost steady, but Daniel could see the fear in his eyes. What should he say? He had been dreading this moment all day. The trial was going badly and Daniel was hardly a year qualified to practise at the bar, let alone to defend a man on trial for his life.

But how could he have refused? Daniel’s father, Sir Thomas Pitt, had asked the head of the law firm if he would allow Daniel to take the case. Blackwell was a private enquiry agent and something of an adventurer. Perhaps some of his cases were dubious, his clients not always the obviously innocent.

Blackwell had been a policeman at the time when Pitt was at Bow Street, long before he had joined Special Branch. He had liked Blackwell, understood not only his sense of humour, but his individual morality. Pitt had saved Blackwell more than once from the consequences of his more quixotic and irregular actions. Blackwell had, on occasion, saved Pitt, too. But the time finally came when Pitt begged Blackwell to leave the police before he made a mistake from which he could not escape. Reluctantly, Blackwell had taken his advice.

Pitt had never forgotten their friendship, and now that Blackwell had fallen seriously afoul of the law, the best Pitt could do for him was to ask Daniel to represent him in court.

Daniel could not refuse. He, too, liked Blackwell, probably for all the same reasons that his father did: his wry humour, his optimism and his imagination.

Daniel frankly found the law far more tedious than he had expected to. The study of it had been interesting at university, but the actuality involved mountains of detailed paperwork. There was nothing glamorous in it, none of the crusading activity he had hoped for.

He was a novice, feeling his inexperience with some pain. He was up against Douglas Sefton, who was skilled, articulate and determined at this, his fifth attempt, finally to convict Roman Blackwell for something, this time for murder.

Blackwell was watching Daniel, waiting for him to answer. He would recognise a lie if he heard one. And what was the use of Daniel lying anyway? Blackwell would only resent it.

‘Yes,’ Daniel replied very quietly. ‘Which is why we have to prove you did not kill John Hinton.’

‘Reasonable doubt?’ Blackwell tried to put hope in his voice, but for once the charm and the music in it did not work.

‘We’re beyond reasonable,’ Daniel answered as gently as he could. ‘They’ll need very strong doubt indeed, and someone the jury can believe is guilty, if you aren’t.’

‘I’m not!’ Blackwell’s voice cracked. The desperation was there for only an instant, but it was unmistakable. ‘I never even touched the gun!’

‘Neither did anyone else, according to the fingerprints—’

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