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Half Moon Street by Anne Perry

Half Moon Street (2000)

by Anne Perry

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Charlotte and Thomas Pitt (20)

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622415,644 (3.62)17



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This was the first book I ever read by Anne Perry. Eh. Well, it was a lot better written than a lot of mysteries I've read. But it oscillated weirdly between fairly typical murder-mystery with police investigations and clues and all that - and a barely-connected story with lots of musings on the role of women in society, the theatre, and the issues involved in censorship. Then, about halfway through, it basically went off on an extended rant against pornography and how bondage/fetish is sick & woman-hating. Whatever. Tell it to all the women I know in the fetish scene....

So. I was unimpressed. And then while I was reading it (at work) I got informed that the writer is actually one of the girls that movie Heavenly Creatures is about, and when she was a teenager she actually killed someone. It's kinda creepy that now she's a successful murder-mystery writer. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
I love Anne Perry's novels, all of them, for the vitality and complexity of her characters and her keen depiction of 19th century England. If only there were more than the great stack I've read. ( )
1 vote jarvenpa | Mar 31, 2013 |
Inspec Pitt, murdered photographer-Cathcart, theater star Cecily Antrim, son Orlando
Carolina, Joshua Sameul(from America)
  mtnmamma | Nov 16, 2007 |
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Anne Perryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Griffini, Grazia MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0449006557, Mass Market Paperback)

Secrets and lies, calumnies and evasions: in Anne Perry's Victorian mysteries, these elements, rather than a hat or gloves, a bustle or a watch fob, are the usual accoutrements of refined ladies and gentlemen. Half Moon Street marks the return of Inspector Thomas Pitt (20 novels now, beginning with The Cater Street Hangman and still going strong) to the cobblestoned streets and elegant drawing rooms of 19th-century London.

The inhabitants of those drawing rooms aren't usually thrilled to see him, because he always comes bearing bad news. This time, a body has turned up in a boat on the Thames: Delbert Cathcart, a talented portrait photographer with a taste for blackmail. Clad in a velvet dress, wrists manacled, legs spread grotesquely, skull crushed, Cathcart reminds Pitt of a perverse echo of the Lady of Shalott, or perhaps a debased Ophelia. Which of Cathcart's clients could have been pushed so far as to retaliate in such hideous fashion?

Pitt's official investigation is usually combined with another more idiosyncratic approach to the crime; this secondary analysis gives Perry free rein to dissect the manners and morals of Victorian society. In Half Moon Street, the genteel inquisition falls to Caroline Fielding, Charlotte's mother (Charlotte, who must need a bit of rest after so many outings, has been packed off to Paris for a vacation; her presence in the book is restricted to letters marveling, rather tediously, at the scandalous iniquities of the Moulin Rouge dance hall). Perry's readers will no doubt remember that Caroline scandalized society by marrying a much younger actor, Joshua. Half Moon Street introduces Caroline to his theatrical world, and to Cecily Antrim, a beautiful actress with liberal politics. Cecily poses both a personal and philosophical threat to Caroline, who is disturbed by her willingness to expose the realities of female sexuality on stage: "Should such things be said? Was there something indecent in the exposure of feelings so intimate? To know it herself was one thing, to realize that others also knew was quite different. It was being publicly naked rather than privately." This fear of exposure resonates through the worlds of theatrical and photographic art, as actors, diplomats, and genteel citizens race to hide their secrets from Pitt and Caroline.

While Perry evokes the London atmosphere with her usual skill, her narrative lacks its usual finesse. Rather than balancing Pitt's and Caroline's investigation, the novel lurches between them so that it seems all too often that Perry, in pursuit of one story, has forgotten the other. Additionally, Caroline's reaction to feminist politics and sexuality is inexplicably repetitive; her turgid expressions of horror seem the result of an overly eager copy-and-paste procedure. One hopes that this is a momentary lapse in an otherwise solid series. --Kelly Flynn

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:51 -0400)

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A bizarre murder on the Thames leads Inspector Thomas Pitt into the shadowy underworld around Victorian London's art district for answers

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