In this superbly accomplished new Charlotte and Thomas Pitt adventure, Anne Perry takes us beneath the glittering surface of wealthy Victorian society into a nightmare world of fear and intimidation, where women are too often blamed for the violent attacks against them, and powerful men take what they want, leaving others to pay the price.
The horrifying rape and apparent suicide of Catherine Quixwood, wife of a wealthy merchant banker, falls outside the new jurisdiction of Special Branch head Thomas Pitt, but so pervasively offensive are the rumors about the victim that Pitt quietly takes a hand in the investigation.
Yet even with the help of his ingenious wife, Charlotte, and his former superior, Victor Narraway, Pitt is stumped. Why did high-minded, cultured Catherine choose not to accompany her husband to a grand party on the night of her demise? Why did she dismiss all her servants for the evening and leave the front door unlocked? What had been her relationship with the young man seen frequently by her side at concerts and art exhibits? And what can be done to avenge another terrible crime: the assault on Angeles Castelbranco, beloved teenage daughter of the Portuguese ambassador?
©2013 Anne Perry (P)2013 Recorded Books
This is one of Anne Perry's best Pitt novels although the real start is Inspector Narroway. I have always like him and was sorry he was removed from Special Branch.
The story is about solving the slaying and rapes of prominent and not-so proiminent women in London. Special Branch gets involved as one of the women is the daughter of the Portunguese Ambassador. But it is Narraway with the aid of Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould who do a lot of the dectective work All in all this is a great book in the series.
It is one of the best she has written in the Pitt series in quite awhile and I hope we see more of Narraway and Lady Vespasia in coming books.
Davina Porter is certainly one of the best narrators there and she is superb in her reading of this book.
Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover
"Midnight at Marble Arch" continues the improvement to the Pitt/Charlotte series which began in "Dorchester Terrace," in which the stories involving Pitt's career with Special Branch finally matched the quality of the novels concerning Pitt as a policeman. I think what made this book so enjoyable for me was the fact that Pitt's involvement in a series of crimes was not primarily in his role as Commander of Special Branch. Instead, he participated in the investigation clandestinely, outside of Special Branch. And the best thing about this book, for me, was that the crime was solved by the team of Pitt, Charlotte, Pitt's former boss Narraway (now Lord Narraway), and my favorite Perry character, Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould.
Perry once again offers an intricate plot, involving several quite vicious rapes which may or may not be connected. The investigating characters spend a great deal of time and effort trying to figure out who, how, when and why, with the answers coming at the eleventh hour. But, as with most Perry novels, the ending is a just one even if not the happiest one. And I must say that the ending of the crime story involves one of Perry's best scenes of violent suspense.
My favorite characteristic of the Pitt/Charlotte books is the very well-researched and presented depiction of the place of upper-class women in the Victorian culture of England, and the restrictions and responsibilities placed upon them. In Midnight at Marble Arch, it is made quite clear that being raped may be the end of a Victorian woman's reputation and marriage prospects in life, so that even more than today women (or their fathers or husbands, who had all the power) refused to report such crimes and those women then had to try to live a normal life while hiding the terrific trauma of rape. They often could not live with it and committed suicide.
The final lovely development in the book is that Lady Vespasia and Lord Narraway are beginning to be quite fond of each other, and a loving relationship seems to be in offing.
I almost always enjoy Anne Perry's writing. I must say that Davina Porter's narration detracted for me from the story largely because I could rarely tell who was speaking. I have listened to a number of books narrated by Davina Porter and do not ever recall having this problem.
I found that I was constantly having to rewind a minute or two and listen again so that I could establish who was speaking. With Michael Page's narration, you always knew Victor Narraway's voice from Pitt's, and Aunt Vespasia's from Charlotte's. Since all four of these people figure prominently in this book, it was imperative to establish different character voices, and I don't think Porter succeeded.
From the way that the storyline proceeded, I understand that the sort of "cariacature" voice that Page established for Aunt Vespasia would not work when she became a major character (and a romantic interest!), but SOME major differentiation needed to be made.
This might be a book that you want to read in print.
Avid mystery reader
Both the print and audio edition of Midnight at Marble Arch were excellent. The only difference was in hearing the book read gave a better idea of the character's emotions.
There really isn't another book that I could or would compare it to. The characters and the plot are completely original.
The description of the main characters tailing the suspect.
When two of the main characters were discussing the situation at the heart of the story.
I don't know. I think I would have enjoyed the print version but I have no regrets at choosing the audiobook.
I liked the interactions of the Pitt family--Thomas, Charlotte, Jemima and Daniel.
I liked many scenes. I enjoyed Pitt's and Narroway's separate investigations, getting to see the inner workings of Victorian households. I also enjoyed the courtroom scenes.
I listened to it in two days. I was intrigued and wanted to know how it would end.
Davina Porter was a good narrator for this material. I have one fault to find with Anne Perry's style. The inner monologues of the characters go on for way too long. It was also a bit difficult listening to a book about rape. However, I enjoy the series and read all the books.
Sure I like Anne Perry's books.
Would love to see Anne Perry's books made into TV series.
I find the first victim, the Portuguese diplomat's daughter, an unlikely one. There were 2-3 instances of this victim showing up at society parties where she runs into her tormentor and flips out. Considering people from this social strata attend the same parties, if the victim was raped and traumatized, is it reasonable for her to socialize at all afterwards? Not justifying the crime, but rather how likely is it that a traumatized victim would show up at a party after being attacked. At the least a concerned mother would have sent her back to Portugal or some place to protect her. The context of the first victim seems unreal and detracts from the story,
Fan of mystery & romance -- particularly of historical persuasion!"
I love all of the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt books, but most particularly those narrated by Davina Porter.
The book could have been better if there was less narrative about the consequences of rape (how would I feel if my wife, my daughter, my sister-in-law, my elderly friend was raped?... how would the violated woman feel?... how can I ensure my son won't become a rapist?... how would society treat the raped woman and her husband?... and on, and on, and on). The book is 6.5 hours long, and most of it was devoted to a discussion of the above. There was almost no detection happening and certainly no action (until the very last scene).
No. I will continue to read books by this author. Several of Ms. Perry's recent books have been filled with suspense, detection, and action, so I'm not giving up on her.
The pace was fine. Ms. Porter's narration has been better, though. I felt that the character voices tended to merge a bit. In previous books, she did a better job of keeping the characters distinct.
Too many to mention.
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