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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?
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By Nancy J on 04-15-13
Another Excellent Pitt/Charlotte Story
"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.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
By Carol on 06-06-13
A Detective Story Lacking the Detection
What would have made Midnight at Marble Arch better?
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).
Has Midnight at Marble Arch turned you off from other books in this genre?
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.
Did the narration match the pace of the story?
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.
If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Midnight at Marble Arch?
Too many to mention.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful