on April 24, 2013
I have been a great fan of Anne Perry's Monk and Pitt series, having read every book. This one was disappointing. I objected to two things. First, the subject of rape was handled with 21st century sensibilities with just a nod to the behaviors and beliefs of late 19th century western culture. Second, the plot line dragged along so slowly and repetitively as to be downright boring. I have never had that happen with any other Perry books. Did she write this one? Did any editor point out improbabilities and inconsistencies? I felt cheated.
on May 14, 2013
This was a real disappointment. Every character ponders the horrors of rape in exactly the same terms, again and again and again. A more thoughtful writer would have introduced nuances, would have understood that men and women in late Victorian London would likely have viewed the crime differently; that there would have been some distinctions in the responses of aristocrats and uniformed police. England was, is, nothing if not a class-oriented society.
There is no forward motion, just endless introspection. I found myself skimming page after page, wanting to get to plot advancement or, failing that, to the end. How many times did I have to read that Thomas, Charlotte, Vespasia and the others know that rape is not a crime of passion, but a crime of violence that could happen to anyone?
Save your money on this one, folks.
on April 14, 2013
I've been reading Anne Perry's Victorian detective novels for years, and am always glad to see another come out. This one was somewhat disappointing. There was a great deal of unnecessary repetition, as if the book needed padding to make up for insufficient plot. It was worth reading, just to spend some more time with Thomas and Charlotte Pitt, Victor Narraway, and Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould -- but if I didn't already know and like these characters, I'm not sure this book would have led me to seek them out again.
Perry's Victorian novels are usually educational, shedding light on the culture and history of the times, and I wouldn't call this one an exception -- but I learned less from it than I have from most of the others.
on April 22, 2013
I normally enjoy the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt mysteries, but they are starting to sound tired. It's as if the author is struggling to find a story and a plot. This one involves the rape and murder of an affluent society wife, the harrassment of the daughter of a Portuguese diplomat, and to top it off the Jamison raid into the Boer territory of South Africa. The subject of rape comes close to home with Thomas and Charlotte as their eldest daughter, Jemima, has turned fourteen is susceptible to the roller-coaster emotions of one that age and they always fear for her safety. The attitudes at that time that were well into the twentieth century were that "the woman must've encouraged him." No defense at all just shame and embarrassment and ruin for any woman. The Pitts have aged as well and their household has changed a bit. Gracie has gone off and married Samuel, a policeman and now in her place is Minnie Maud whose only talent seems to be making cucumber sandwiches. She certainly doesn't have the moxie of Gracie. Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould is still around and seems to be charming Victor Narraway who was once Pitt's boss at Special Branch. Anyway there are several plots going on here that involve investments in South Africa, rape and murder, and all this gets tied together. Somehow all the dialogue in this book just gets tedious at times as Charlotte, Pitt, Victor, and Vespasia all go on and on ad nauseum trying to read other people's minds. I really liked the earlier books of Thomas and Charlotte Pitt. Maybe as they have gotten older, they have gotten staid!
on May 15, 2013
I fear I must agree with many of the other reviewers here that this novel wasn't as well written or exciting as Anne Perry's past Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels. The author had a platform here that she wanted to stress - the horrors and injustice of rape - and had her characters each go on and on about it from their own viewpoints. Not that I don't agree with the author's viewpoint, but it was just too overdone, and therefore the plot dragged, and didn't have the movement that is usual in her other novels.
I found a couple of inconsistencies that struck me as well. On page 21 she describes the victim as "laying on her front" and then a few lines later she says that her blouse had been ripped open "exposing what could be seen of her bosom". The author then describes the victim's skirt at the murder scene as "raised around her hips" and "her naked thighs were bruised". All this bodily exposure would be fine, if it were not for the fact that on page 73, when the doctor is explaining that he is certain she died from drinking an overdose of laudanum, he says that "she crawled to the cabinet and poured herself enough to deaden the pain...." etc. And the character, Narraway, asks if she could have dragged herself that far.
If she crawled or dragged herself over to a cabinet and poured herself a drink, the skirt, even if tattered, would most certainly have fallen down enough to cover her thighs again, and she most certainly would not have left herself nakedly exposed (her bosom), even if she did remain sprawled on the floor - - which I find unlikely, as well.
The ending also seems very contrived to me, as they are left with no actual criminal participants to testify against each other, but we are left to believe that the court would rely on the word of Thomas Pitt, Victor Narraway and Lady Vespia as to what happened in that room. And that, after the actual written papers and proof they brought to the first trial were disbelived!
I've liked most of the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels before this one, and hope that the author returns to her better writing style in the future.
on November 11, 2012
Thomas Pitt comes into his own at last as Commander of the Special Branch. The tale of the rape of several women is as controversial today as it was in the late 1890's. A very powerful story and one which I will certainly read again. Cannot wait for the next novel by Anne Perry. She is a true master of the written word.
on May 4, 2013
Have read all of Perry's Victorian books and, like others, find the repetition in each book, not just this one, to be quite annoying. I almost closed my Kindle on this book numerous times, but chose to skip over such paragraphs.
When all is said and done, the book came off more as a Narraway book than a Pitt book. The evolving Narraway, no longer Commander of Special Branch, is somewhat interesting, but almost unbelievable in the setting of a Victorian gentleman's life. Would he, in real life, be as introspective as he is in the book?
The subject of rape, addressed by many reviewers, was a bit disconcerting. I say that, because we are bombarded in our daily lives with horrific crimes and my desire is to read a Victorian novel with a crime not quite so close to home. I do feel, however, that Perry was as true to Victorian morals and ethics as she could be: we need to remember that social and intellectual "blinders" were the centerpiece of "Society."
And, lastly, I absolutely wanted and needed an epilogue. This book ended abruptly - too abruptly.
Bottom line: Decent read
on May 2, 2013
I've read them all. Started from the first book, Cater Street Hangman, and kept going. The stories were great, the characters great, and I got a wonderful perspective of the period. The books were really good for a long time. But they have been declining for a while now and this one, Midnight at Marble Arch was the capper. The story was weak, the ending even worse. I won't spoil it for those who still want to read this book, but my reactions was essentially, "Really? You cannot be serious."
The ending was bad, but I think the repeated dialogue breaks so Perry could hammer away, over and over and over, about the angst the character of the moment was experiencing was exasperating. I think we got it Ms. Perry, after the first few times. The breaks went on so long you'd forget where the dialogue had been going and even who was speaking.
Will I read another in the series? I don't know, but I certainly won't buy any more. And the Monk series is not far behind.
on April 26, 2013
Thomas Pitt and Victor Narraway work hand in hand on a terrible murder and moral tragedy. Faced with the mores of the society and what is acceptable or not acceptable, they need to save a young man from being unjustly convicted and stop a vicious rapist. Narraway is adjusting to his new position and finds himself turning to Lady Vespasia for advice instead of Charlotte Pitt. I found the story sometimes dragged in spots. As always with one of Ms. Perry's novels, I received a bit of a history lesson. I just wish I understood a little more about the controversies in South Africa and between Britain and the Boers. This was a subplot that I found to be a bit confusing at times because I didn't know too much of those conflicts. The BIGGEST disappointment is the ending. I wish Ms. Perry would have added an Epilogue or one more small chapter tying things up a bit better. It just ended very abruptly. Many of her novels tend to do that, but with this one I felt very frustrated.
on April 20, 2013
I have read every Thomas and Charlotte Pitt book which has been published. I was very disappointed in this latest one. I felt like there was an agenda other than to be entertained. It was tedious and depressing. I think I enjoyed the earlier books more. I will try again to see if this was out of the ordinary.