Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Callander Square - Anne Perry
Callander Square is book 2 in Anne Perry's Thomas & Charlotte Pitt series. Once again it brings us to Victorian London, it's rich neighbourhoods full of secrets and where everyone seems to have something to hide.
Murders just didn't take place in fashionable Callander Square, so Inspector Pitt's well-bred wife Charlotte couldn't resist finding out why one had. Suddenly there she was, rattling the closets of the very rich, listening to backstair gossip, and unearthing truths that could push even the most proper aristocrat to murder....
The plot revolves around the discovery of 2 babies buried in the square of a high society neighbourhood. Inspector Pitt is in charge of the case and soon his wife Charlotte decides to do a bit of investigating too. She reveals her plans to her sister who moves freely in high society and they both manage to have the inside facts and gossip of the residents of the square while Pitt has to stick to interrogating servants and ocasionaly the masters.
I really liked this book. It's more about victorian society, how they lived both the servants and the masters, than about solving the mystery. That's part of it yes but we primarily meet the female society with it's social rules of calling and leaving cards, of what's considered important to women and not to men. Actually it's like they have two separate areas of action, the women in the house and the men outside. It's about how men occupied their time and the relationships with the lower classes. The hypocrisy and the double standard that existed. All that is mentioned in the book and sometimes actively explained by the characters. There is a group of very strong female characters who analyse their situations and proceed accordingly - Charlotte, Emily, Lady Augusta and even Adelina Southeron. The men involved seem to be weaker, with the exception of Pitt and Coronel Balantyne, they all seemed to have something to hide. As an exceptional portrait of victorian society I think it's even better than the previous book in this series - the Cater Street Hangman.
Regarding the mystery itself we have little clues to whom might be guilty and in fact had we not been told it wouldn't be easy to guess and especially the reasons for it. After I found out I could only think: How victorian! Charlotte and Pitt are very likeable people and Emily, Charlotte's sister who didn't seem all that nice in the previous books reveals herself a practical and level headed woman in her opinions about society in general.