Saturday, July 20, 2013

Review: The Cater Street Hangman

Cater Street is an upscale residential neighborhood in Victorian London. It is the residence of the Ellison family, and it also becomes the scene of terror and mystery as several young women in the neighborhood are found garroted. The eminently respectable neighborhood appears to have a serial killer on its hands. What is nearly as bad as the murders is that they have been inundated by the police who are seeking the killer. Police are still rather suspicious in late-nineteenth century London, and they threaten the respectability of the neighborhood.

One of the Ellisons disagrees with these ideas. Charlotte, Ellison daughter of marriageable age, finds the case fascinating, and also starts to find the police inspector, Thomas Pitt, rather interesting too.

Aside from being a good mystery, which this is, this book offers a wealth of information about Victorian family and gender norms. The reader gets an acute sense of the structures binding a free spirit like Charlotte Ellison. Readers who are not especially familiar with the Victorian period will likely find the ideas about the police interesting too-- they are hardly complimentary and quite different from the twenty-first century.

I did figure out the responsible party in this mystery rather earlier than I would have preferred, but this book certainly pulled me into the series and made me want to read more. I'm expecting subsequent books in this series to be better; this book had to lay significant groundwork introducing the family and the Ellison sisters.

Anne Perry, The Cater Street Hangman (orig. 1979, Ballantine, 2008) ISBN: 0345513568 

1 comment:

Bev Hankins said...

Lucky you--just starting this series! I remember how much I enjoyed these when they first hit the bookshelves.