The Cater Street Hangman
The Cater Street Hangman A Thomas Pitt Mystery By Perry, Anne Book - 1979

The Ellisons are a well-to-do Victorian family in a proper London neighborhood. Papa Ellison has a stiff upper lip and Mama is the all the right stuff Victorian ladies are made of; daughters Sarah, Emily, and Charlotte have a bit more spunk. Sarah, the eldest, is married to easy-going, easy-on-the-eyes Dominic while youngest sister Emily has her sights set on making a match of the finest quality. For Emily, it?s handsomely rich Lord Ashworth or bust, even if love doesn?t quite enter the picture. Middle sister Charlotte is the black sheep of the family. Her looks don?t compete with those of her fair, delicate sisters (darker hair, eyes, and complexion were decidedly not up to the high standards of Victorian feminine beauty), and she speaks her mind entirely too much and too easily for a young woman of good breeding. But these become minor issues when a series of murders suddenly plagues the Cater Street neighborhood where the Ellisons live. Women are being brutally strangled, and not only is this terrifying news in its own right, but murder is not the sort of event that attracts respectability. The Victorians loved a good scandal?but only, of course, when it happens to other people. Enter Inspector Thomas Pitt, an upstart of the first order who is far too scruffy, demanding, and familiar (especially with hot-tempered Charlotte) to tolorate, even if he is the police officer in charge of the case. But it cannot be denied (especially by Charlotte) that Pitt is intelligent, insightful, and even, given half a chance, sensitive. Romance has little time to flourish here, for the Cater Street Hangman is at large and the lives of the neighborhood?s fine young ladies?including the Ellison sisters?are very much in danger. Mystery writer Ann Perry pens a serious, atmospheric mystery that is rooted in historical details of London circa 1881, foggy nights and narrow alleys not to be excluded. Perry?s characters (most notably Inspector Pitt, plus a few select members of the Ellison family, not to give too much away) challenge the Victorian notions of class and gender which, of course, inspires the drama, action, and suspense that makes this Victorian mystery series one of the longest running and best loved of its kind.

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