Like reading Thackeray edited by Elmore Leonard

Midnight at Marble Arch

Midnight at Marble Arch
Midnight at Marble Arch

Loyal, honest and, above all, principled. There is no finer detective in Victorian London than Thomas Pitt. It is 1896, and Thomas Pitt is in charge of Special Branch. He is beginning to understand the power he now commands, but is still ill at ease at the glittering events he and his wife Charlotte must attend.

During a lavish party at the Spanish Embassy, a policeman breaks into Pitt's conversation with investor Rawdon Quixwood to break the terrible news that Quixwood's wife, Catherine, has been viciously assaulted at their home, and left for dead. Worse still, it appears that the assailant was someone she had trusted as she opened the door to the attacker herself.

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  • "Death and the Maidens Anne Perry’s ‘Midnight at Marble Arch,’ and More / By MARILYN STASIO Published: May 3, 2013 Anne Perry has killed off a lot of women in a lot of ways since she began writing her atmospheric mysteries about Thomas Pitt, a detective in late-Victorian London, and his highborn wife, Charlotte. But, strange as it may seem for such an unflinching observer of the criminal justice system, until now Perry hadn’t trained her exacting eye on the subject of rape. MIDNIGHT AT MARBLE ARCH (Ballantine, $27) makes up for that lapse with a vengeance. Without losing her grip on the refined language appropriate to the day, Perry has written a sweeping and scandalous exposé of sexual brutality amid the upper classes. When violated women in Victorian novels say their lives are ruined, they aren’t being melodramatic. “Many women never get over rape. Can’t bear the shame and the horror of it,” according to the police surgeon performing an autopsy on the wife of a merchant banker who took a lethal dose of laudanum after being raped and brutally beaten. Not only do the victims feel themselves damaged beyond repair, he explains, but their husbands often blame their wives for provocative behavior — and themselves for failing to protect those living under their care. The stigma is even worse for Angeles Castelbranco, the 16-year-old daughter of the Portuguese ambassador. Experts in the art of reading social cues, Charlotte Pitt and her great-aunt, Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould, are made aware of the young woman’s distress simply by noting how she recoils when a young man approaches her at a party. Thomas, who now occupies an exalted position as head of Special Branch, is busy on sensitive matters of security like a possible war with the Boers in southern Africa. So it falls to his friend, Victor Narraway, to continue the investigation when other women of good reputation are violently attacked. Although the subject is strictly taboo in this society, Perry has perfected a delicate touch in approaching the untouchable. Even when dealing with sexual violence, she applies the same nuanced technique that she uses to indicate a woman’s age, class and marital status by recording the precise shade of her dress. It’s more than a neat trick: it makes readers aware of how the violation of women, those symbols of social stability, can send a modern civilization back to the dark ages." New York Times, May 2013
  • "Ms. Perry has killed off a lot of women in a lot of ways since she began writing her atmospheric mysteries about Thomas Pitt, a detective in late-Victorian London, and his highborn wife, Charlotte. But, strange as it may seem for such an unflinching observer of the criminal justice system, until now she hadn't trained her eye on the subject of rape. This book makes up for that lapse with a vengeance. Ms. Perry has written a sweeping and scandalous expose of sexual brutality amid the upper classes. When violated women in Victorian novels say their lives are ruined, they aren't being melodramatic. Angeles Castelbranco, the 16-year old daughter of the Portuguese ambassador is at the centre of this tale. Experts in the art of reading social cues, Charlotte Pitt and her great-aunt, Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould, are made aware of her distress simply by noting how she recoils when a young man approaches her at a party. Ms. Perry has perfected a delicate touch in approaching the untouchable." International Herald Tribune, May 2013