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Highgate Rise by Anne Perry
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Highgate Rise (edition 1992)

by Anne Perry

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503520,248 (3.61)5
Member:BonnieJune54
Title:Highgate Rise
Authors:Anne Perry
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Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
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Highgate Rise by Anne Perry

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Anne Perry is one of the authors I routinely look for at book sales, and so I read rather old titles such as this one from 1991. I like her Thomas and Charlotte Pitt very much. They are a loving couple who understand each other, and although Pitt is a cop and their income is low, Charlotte is originally from gentry and has family and friends from that class. This gives them unusual access to people of all walks of life. Charlotte "meddles" in Thomas' cases, but he values her input so unless she gets herself into a dangerous situation, he's fine with that.

This was definitely not my favorite novel in the series, but one wonderful thing about all of them is that the reader gets a bird's eye view of society customs, dress, and rigorous rules as well as the plight of the poor. That's particularly true in this book where one character is determined to do something about the rich living off the exorbitant rents they receive from living quarters that are simply death traps. The story begins with a huge house fire and that leads to descriptions of the uselessness of firefighting techniques of the time. Vivid storytelling of this kind is Perry's forte.

I grew impatient with the storylines in HIghgate Rise though. Characters are questioned over and over by both Thomas and Charlotte, each character's personality and beliefs are gone over ad nauseum. The story veers from one storyline to another and back again. Although we do learn the identity of the killer in the end, there are multiple loose ends left which may or may not be tied up in following novels. Since I read them out of order, I don't know. I just felt like I'd been dropped off in the middle of London in the middle of the night without direction.

Not that this will stop me from searching for more unread titles by Perry. Far from it. I do enjoy most of her books and characters so I will continue to find them for a nice change of pace in my reading life. ( )
  bjmitch | Jul 16, 2012 |
It took me a few Anne Perry and Victoria Thompson novels to discover that the term 'mystery' has changed from how it was used let's say 10 to 20 years ago. Most readers might still associated a mystery novel with a puzzle and with sleuthing, but those terms rarely apply anymore to modern mysteries. Anne Perry is one of many contemporary authors who writes historical fiction with a romantic inclination, which is probably a better label than mystery. Granted, the reader does not know until the very end who has committed the heinous crime, but then again the reveal is most of the time arrived at by the culprit confessing without provocation and regularly without convincing motivation. You could say: with enough time and social pressure the murderer will eventually show him or herself without the need for evidence. Rarely in these novels is there actual hard evidence linking the crime to the crimee.

Traditionally in the context of a murder mystery there are a number of suspects each with the appropriate motivation as to why they wanted to snuff the life out of the poor victim. At the end of the story a sleuth or consulting detective explains why only one of the suspects could have actually committed the crime and why the rest of the bunch are not eligible for the title of murderer, no matter how much they desired that tribute.
In an Anne Perry novel the mechanism is reversed, we now have a number of suspects each of which was potentially at the proper place (one will never know) with the right intentions and correct means, but physical evidence and eyewitness reports don't matter that much. The one who has the best motive wins, it's that simple. Instead of the traditional plotting of the author, sleuthing by the detective and puzzling by the readers, we now have novels where the mystery content revolves around veiled dramatic character interactions. Most of these interactions will mostly appeal only to female audiences and ironically portray a rather traditional domestic picture and gender role division.

From a historical perspective there is much to be found and experienced. Authors like Anne Perry, Victoria Thompson and Caleb Carr to name just a few, are heavily invested in accurate depictions and appropriately original detail. Reading an Anne Perry is just as much an immersive trip into Victorian Times as it is an ongoing daytime television saga. Readers aren't really invested in an Anne Perry for the story, but for the endless almost but not quite amorous interactions between Charlotte and Thomas. For a Victoria Thompson novel you can swap out Frank and Sarah, everything else stays the same.

If you like a trip into a complete and convincing Victorian world with lots of interesting drama and elaborate character interactions through dialog, then you're in for a treat. If you're looking for an Agatha Christie mystery then I suggest you read an Agatha Christie. ( )
  TheCriticalTimes | Jan 5, 2012 |
As usual from Anne Perry, this was an engaging mystery. I wanted to know how it ended, and had perhaps better success than usual in working out the end before it became readily apparent. Thomas and Charlotte Pitt are always charming, and Gracie (the maid) was rather winning here as well.I did feel that this book suffered from the characters' being eager to expound on their philosophical, religious and political feelings. One or two people -- passionate, as many of these were -- who run off at the mouth are understandable. But when suspect after suspect and neighbor after neighbor digresses into long, frank tirades and phillippics, it seems like too much exposition. This may be because of the incorporation of historical figures and controversies into this volume, or part of the more thematically focused nature of this book (compared to others by the author.) At any rate, I found it distracting, and it was capped by both Charlotte and Vespasia being rather obnoxiously didactic in the closing scene.About the audiobook: Davina Porter is my favorite Recorded Books narrator, and she is a perfect match for these books. She has flawlessly clear enunciation, a variety of voices at her command, and consistently gives the dialogue precisely the emotional tone it requires. ( )
1 vote eilonwy_anne | Nov 5, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0449219593, Mass Market Paperback)

"Perry gets the Victorian mood just right...Settle in with this one on a rainy day."
BOOKLIST
Clemency Shaw, the wife of a prominent doctor, has died in a tragic fire. But whether the blaze was set by an arsonist aiming for the doctor, or set by the doctor himself, Inspector Thomas Pitt isn't certain. With the scarcity of clues, Pitt turns to Clemency's stuffy, but distinguished, relatives. Meanwhile, Pitt's wellborn wife, Charlotte, retraces the dangerous path that Clemency walked the last months of her life, and finds herself enmeshed in a sinister web that stretches from the lowest slums to the loftiest centers of power....

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:57:56 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In the Victorian London stunned by the sensational crimes of a madman named Jack the Ripper, a tragic fire in the peaceful suburb of Highgate goes unmarked and an innocent woman has died in it.

(summary from another edition)

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