Saturday, July 14, 2012

Book Thoughts - The Cater Street Hangman by Anne Perry

The Cater Street Hangman by Anne Perry
published 1979
287 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

While the Ellison girls were out paying calls and drinking tea like proper Victorian ladies, a maid in their household was strangled to death. The quiet and young Inspector Pitt investigates the scene and finds no one above suspicion. As his intense questioning causes many a composed facade to crumble, Pitt finds himself couriously drawn to pretty Charlotte Ellison. Yet, a romance between a society girl and so unsuitable a suitor was impossible in the midst of a murder....

My thoughts:

First Impression - 7/8/12

How have I not found this series before? It's like a Jane Austen novel with a mystery thrown in - I am just loving all the family cattiness, and the marital intrigues, and of course the creepy maniac who keeps garroting young ladies in alleys. Charlotte Ellison is, of course, funny and intelligent and so much less annoying that the typical "young woman of her day" - although at times, I can't help but wonder if this type of heroine would actually have existed in the time, or if we as modern readers and authors just impart our ideas of women's liberation and freedom upon them. In any case, I'm certainly enjoying her.

Second Thoughts - 7/12/12

Whew! The mystery has definitely arrived at Charlotte's doorstep, and with it the slightly socially awkward but clearly (eventually) lovable Detective Thomas Pitt. It's fairly clear his role in the novel - Charlotte's eventual true love - but Perry isn't going to make their road to romance smooth. I barely care about the grisly murderer running around because I am so enjoying the relationship dynamics Perry has set in motion.

I think my favorite character, though, is Emily. She is naturally vain and self-centered, but there is a calculating coldness under that vapid exterior that hints at a good deal of intelligence. I really hope her character is explored throughout the series, because I think she is the one out of all the cast who can undergo the most interesting transformation.

Because it is a mystery, red herrings abound, and I have chosen and then discarded several. I'm bad at figuring out the mystery, but that never stops me from trying! *grin*

Last Word - 7/14/12

Well, that ended....abruptly. We have the big declaration of love (sorry for the spoiler, but it's not a big secret), and then the reveal of the murderer (again, not a big secret), and then it's over. I mean, on that same page, the book is over. That felt very strange.

I think the novel lost some steam for me in the middle - the mystery was really only dealt with peripherally, with the main focus of the story being the family relationships. Perry spent some time dealing with a couple of the secondary characters I didn't particularly care for, and that made less interested in where she was going. Emily continues to be my favorite character, and I hope the series features her in the upcoming books.

It was a good novel - it didn't end as terrific for me as it started, but I would still recommend it if you like historicals with a bit of a mystery thrown in.

Finished: 7/14/12
Source: my shelves
MPAA rating: PG-13 for adult themes and violence
My rating: 7/10


Zibilee said...

That does seem like a strange ending, doesn't it? The revelation of both the murderer and the love relationship both on the same page, and then the book is over? Very weird, but weird in a way that's got me curious! I will have to get a hold of this one when I can. It sounds unique, and also a little stylistically perplexing. Very nice review today, Elizabeth!

Lorraine S. said...

You'll like this series, expecially if read in order. Good character development. Enjoy.