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The Cater Street Hangman by Anne Perry

The Cater Street Hangman (original 1979; edition 2008)

by Anne Perry

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1,184486,790 (3.67)88
Title:The Cater Street Hangman
Authors:Anne Perry
Info:Ballantine Books (2008), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library, 2012 Reads
Tags:Historical Mystery, Victorian England

Work details

The Cater Street Hangman by Anne Perry (1979)

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Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
This is the first Charlotte and Inspector Pitt murder mystery which I have never read. When it opens Charlotte is still unmarried and living at home with her parents, her sister, Emily and her married sister Sarah and her husband, Dominic.

The book sets up all the characters for all the volumes to come in this series. We see how stultifying Charlotte finds her proper upper middle class Victorian life where women ere expected to be little more than dutiful daughters and wives with no thought on intellectual accomplishments. While her sister, Emily, seems to be able to adapt this life to her own ends. Charlotte is totally unable to fit into this staid society. Her sister, Sarah, doesn't do much better, seemingly to fall into a self-righteous existence occupied mainly by doing good works with the vicar's wife and harboring deep suspicions about CHarlotte's affection toward her husband.

When a madman starts garroting women in their neighborhood, Inspector Pitt arrives on the scene. At first Charlotte finds him appalling and beneath her station in life. But as the body count rises and gets closer and closer to her home, the attraction between them becomes unmistakable.

This is a fun read and made me wish that Pitt had stayed a policeman instead of moving into special branch in the later novels. The books were much more fun when the two of them were a team solving crimes. ( )
  etxgardener | Jul 13, 2015 |
Great mystery! Charlotte is a sympathetic heroine, flawed and trying to do the right thing. The perspective shifts threw me a bit, and I thought the names might have been a bit obvious, but... nope! ;-) A good read. ( )
  MargaretPinardAuthor | May 23, 2015 |
Charlotte Ellison is an outspoken woman in Victorian England. She likes to say what’s on her mind and she doesn’t like making meaningless conversation. Charlotte also likes to sneak peeks at the newspaper and secretly reads books on historic wars and other subjects that her family considers too barbaric for a woman to read.

But a string of violent murders start to happen on Cater Street where Charlotte lives with her family. Two girls are strangled and mutilated, but aside from how they were killed there seems to be no other connection. One was a wealthy girl and the other was a maid. Then one of the maids from the Ellison house becomes the next victim of the hangman and Charlotte and her family are immediately thrown into the investigation and listed as potential suspects.

Enter Inspector Pitt who suspects everyone and doesn’t care what weird family drama he stirs up with his questions. With Pitt’s inquiring and the fact that some of the Ellison family can’t really account for their whereabouts on any of the nights of the murders the family starts to cast suspicious eyes on each other and also on their neighbors. It’s no longer safe for a woman to walk alone on Cater Street and Pitt is hanging around casa Ellison more than is comfortable to some family members.

The fact that narration kept switching point of views frequently throughout the novel drove me nuts. It was also confusing, because one minute you’d be Charlotte’s head then the next you’re in her mother’s head or one of her sisters. And honestly I didn’t care to get their perspective on the events, because I found her sister to be annoying and her mother to be a flat character. We also get glimpses inside the brother in-laws head and the crazy misery loving grandmother’s head. All of this just seemed like a cheap way to make sure the readers suspected more than one person. The mother laid more suspicion on the father, the sister more on the brother in-law, and the other sister gave us suspicion on her beau. We started off with Charlotte and we should’ve stayed with her or at least that’s my opinion.

The only other person I wouldn’t have minded changing to their POV is Inspector Pitt, but we never did.
One of the major things I liked about this book was the fact that Charlotte wasn’t an idiot and didn’t start fancying herself a detective. Never did she decide “I’m going to go find out who this monster is!” and start running around like a idiot causing more trouble for everyone. Instead she was more than willing to let Pitt handle everything, but of course she kept getting sucked into the affair. Anyway, I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in this series.
( )
  Book_Minx | Jan 24, 2015 |
I have greatly enjoyed the William Monk series and felt I needed to delve into the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series. Perry shows that the police department in England did not evoke respect in the 1880's. No privileged family would welcome a policeman into their family. Policemen are barely above the riffraff that they must arrest. Perry spends much time in describing the everyday life of the English, and the role of a lady in this society. That life stands as a boring march to the grave. Women have no life and have been held to strict principles. Men, in contrast, lead a different life with different principles. The killer/hangman comes as a surprise, but the story abruptly stops with the discovery of the hangman. ( )
  delphimo | Nov 15, 2014 |
I didn't enjoy this book.

The problem is three-fold:

1 - I don't believe in the characters. These are Victorian ladies, living in a house where the mother refers to her mother-in-law as Grandmama. I don't think that the daughters of the house would think of their mother by her given name, not even in their own thoughts. I know why the author has them do it, to make it clearer who is talking about who, but it distorts the feel of the characters.

2 - The resolution of the plot came out of nowhere. I can see what they were going for, but I've never been a fan of twist murderers.

3 - I don't like Inspector Pitt. I can see what the author was aiming for, brave working class man who has fought his way up to Inspector rank, opening the eyes of privileged woman to the poverty all around her, making her a better person.

It would probably work if Inspector Pitt wasn't such a sermonizing, sanctimonious know it all. (Eoin McCarthy played him in the TV version and even he couldn't make him bearable, which I would have though impossible.) I'm convinced that Charlotte has swapped one pompous prat (her father) for another one.

Part of the problem may have been that the only character I liked was the youngest sister.

It's not actually a bad book, it's solidly written and does a reasonably good job of scene-setting, I just didn't enjoy it. ( )
  redfiona | Jul 24, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anne Perryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Damiani, MaddalenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Porter, DavinaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Charlotte Ellison stood in the centre of the withdrawing room, the newspaper in her hand.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0449208672, Mass Market Paperback)

"An ingenious mystery and an excellent example of manners and caste systems of the Victorian era."
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....

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:43 -0400)

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Inspector Pitt investigates the murder of a maid in the Ellison household, and falls in love with Charlotte Ellison.

(summary from another edition)

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