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on October 28, 2014
My second historic sojourn with <b>Anne Perry</b>, whose wonderful suite I’m taking in ten years tardy, was also enjoyed at the five-star level. By an odd personal turn, it was hard to begin this sequel to <i>“The Cater Street Hangman”</i> because my dear cat unexpectedly died while that book was going! We miss you very much, <b>Love</b>. I didn’t want to associate <b>Anne</b> with a sad event. After a few uplifting titles: I got back upon the saddle and forged into “<b>Callander Square</b>”.

Exactly like the former, action and activity speed along from scene to scene. This is no mean feat because a plethora of families must be introduced and <b>Anne’s</b> audience needs updating. Where we left off, <i>Charlotte & Thomas</i> wanted to marry. We aren’t witness to his petitioning of her Father nor of their wedding. So we have a little bit of acclimatizing to do at their home, where <i>Charlotte</i> doesn’t mind attending to basic housekeeping and employs one maid to assist her. It seems a solitary maid is sign enough of a humbler station, in the 1800s. <i>Emily’s</i> vain disposition is much improved, as <i>Charlotte’s</i> assistant sleuth.

Not light, <b>Anne</b> presents bold subjects unflinchingly: the discovery of two infants under the grass thoroughfare of a classy neighbourhood. We find the deep-rooted theme again, that this society feared keeping their status and unspotted name; even if avoiding scandal flew in the face of what we today decree is <i>“the right thing”</i>. It was impossible to nail down a culprit because every household, with no exception, questioned the police’s intention to solve an old murder. They all reacted with genuine distress to news of the infants but everyone felt the past should be left to lie. The sub-stories are complex; blended seamlessly between all families by a sharp plotter.
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on March 19, 2003
A couple of years have passed since the marriage of Charlotte Ellison to Inspector Thomas Pitt, and she has adapted well to her more restricted economic circumstances, while her sister, Emily, has similarly done very well as Lady Ashworth. But Pitt must try to discover what happened to the two infants whose bodies have been dug up in the gardens in the center of fashionable Callander Square, and the two sisters resolve to assist him in rather ingenious ways. In a way, this second book in the series is a superior sort of soap opera, investigating the relationships within the families who live on the Square, uncovering their numerous scandals, and making it clear that wealth and privilege are no guarantee of personal quality. Some of the families are divided or devasted by Pitt's investigations, and by the additonal murders that take place, while others are reunited and perhaps improved. And the plot is again well laid and logically developed.
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on October 19, 2002
As opposed to the preceeding reviewers, I found this book, the first Perry that I read, such a stimulous that I literally became obsessed and chomped through at least 9 others. The Victorian conditions were never so well conceived. Whatever you thought you knew about this era, Perry brings you more. The romance between Charlotte and Thomas, the easily resolved complications of class and money- were as satisfying as a good love story- more like a novel of manners with an attractive heroine. The heroine, the intrepid Charlotte, is always breaking the safety rules, scaring her readers and her husband, a brave lady to admire in an era where ladies were in quite a strange condition to say the least. In this case, Charlotte goes undercover to snoop and dig up the facts. There is a pleasant likeness to another bold young lady- Nancy Drew, who had a roadster- who can forget Roadster? Well, the feeling's back.
The mystery in this case was a backdrop, but not at all a loser. In that area, and throughout her series the surprises are in the characters and the manners and furniture that hide the base nature of villains or those they torment.
Perry is not afraid of the unseemly- dead babies, after all are pretty gross. Alas, after a good old time, I found Perry's novels
had said about all that could be said about the love and the era. But I hearily urge any former Nancy Drew devotees and admitted romantics who cannot stomach romance novels to give her a try. I started with this and then wound in and about her other sleuth and also a romantic figure, Monk. Charlotte and Pitt do stay married, and that's all I'll say.
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on March 20, 2001
This is the second book in Anne Perry's mystery series involving Charlotte and Inspector Pitt. But note, reading the first in the series, "The Cater Street Hangman" is not a requirement to understanding and enjoying "Callandar Square." Perry seems to have foreseen this issue and wrote the books in this series without any prerequisites. (Obviously, if one can read the books in order, than that's terrific too!) The story, as do most of Perry's works, is set in Victorian England. Perry is so natural in description of places, people and customs of this era, one wonders if she doesn't own a time-machine. In the mystery, two bodies of babies are found buried in the well-to-do, respectable neighborhood of Callandar Square. Rumors abound on who they were and who was the mother. Naturally, the well-born classes dismiss it as the desperate act of a chambermaid or some other lowly working-class girl. But when Inspector Thomas Pitt puts his sleuthing wits to the matter that assumption doesn't seem so easy. The Inspector has recently married Charlotte, who is from an established family. Those in their society may have seen the marriage as unprofitable for her, but Charlotte married for love. Charlotte is a delight with her brains and attitudes, and is ever so likable. She is a woman ahead of her times. Charlotte, through some scheming with her high-society sister, takes up a clerical position in one of the aristocratic homes in Callandar Square as an attempt to uncover any secrets about the discovered bodies. An array of concealments and hush-hush information unfolds as Pitt, Charlotte, and Charlotte's sister begin to delve into the lives of the residents of Callandar Square. There are surprises and heartbreaks as the killer is finally cornered. Perry's skill of dialogue is excellent as the reader learns intimately the attitudes of the various characters. The ending seems a little quick in the realization of the killer, but Perry makes up for it with a touching reflection that Pitt ponders in the final pages. Other readers of this series have suggested they wish there was more dialogue and action between Pitt and Charlotte together. Perhaps feeling a little spoiled from "Cater Street." But I see this as a compliment to Perry, not a fault. The characters so well drawn and their charms when together in a chapter, so relishing, that it will always leave one wanting more. Yet, there are only so many opportunities for a dual appearance in this particular plot. If Perry wrote anymore, it may have seemed forced. But fear not, there are plenty of Charlotte and Pitt books to get happily lost in. And "Callandar Square" was one of them for me.
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on September 25, 2012
Once I picked this book up I had a hard time putting it down again and I read it in a little over a day. Enjoyable storyline and characters, the setting of Victorian England was told so vividly you could almost picture yourself in the drawing rooms and parlours of the wealthy characters, sitting in front of a roaring fire, the ladies gossiping, the men smoking cigars, drinking port and solving the world's problems. I swear I could hear the clip clop of horses hooves on the pavement and feel the cold winter air as they walked to wherever they were going. I couldn't solve the mystery until it was done for me at the end of the book. I look forward to reading more in this series and seeing how Charlotte and Thomas's marriage grows over the years, and just how invovled Charlotte and her sister will be in future cases.
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on December 26, 1998
Nearly everyone living on well-to-do Callander Square has something to hide--secrets that, if made public, would ruin lives and reputations. The residents' desperate attempts to keep those secrets from each other are as much a part of the story as the efforts of Inspector Thomas Pitt and his new wife, Charlotte, to unravel the mystery of two dead infants buried in the square itself. Perry blends period detail, detection, and rot-beneath-the-genteel-surface social commentary with great skill. Thomas and Charlotte are as charming as in their first appearance (in _The Cater Street Hangman_), and some residents of the Square rise to three-dimensional status. Only the climax disappoints, setting up a solid solution with creaky plot devices reminiscent of a "Perry Mason" TV episode.
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on March 18, 1999
This is the second in the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series. I started reading it as soon as I had finished The Cater Street Hangman (the first)! Inspector Pitt is now married to his Charlotte and they make a delightful couple. Although pregnant with their first child, Charlotte does some detecting of her own in this case, helped by her well-to-do sister, Emily. The plot is excellent and the characters are very well-drawn. The strict rules regarding class which most of the Victorian upper-class people in this book feel compelled to follow appear somewhat laughable to us in this more enlightened age but are very destructive for all that! I could not put this book down until I knew whodunnit and I was quite a way through it before I guessed the culprit! A wonderful read!
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on October 28, 2000
Having discovered a new detective series (new to me) with "The Cater Street Hangman," I was really looking forward to reading all the books in sequence. This one, however, didn't hold up to the pace or energy of the first one. I found it slow going, actually. And between the end of the last one and the beginning of this one Charlotte and Thomas were married -- cheating us all out of quite a bit of information, such as how her father took it, how everything went, etc. But it was an interesting plot and, I must say, I didn't guess the answer before the end, so all in all it was clever. I'm not really disappointed, but I hope the rest of the series regains the excitement of the first book.
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on January 20, 2001
I have not read all of the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series but enough to know that Callandar Square is both typical and essential to an Anne Perry fan. The intimate detail of a Victorian novel as well as a stunning depiction of the innuendos and intricacies of period manners styles and interactions is palpably present. I was a little disappointed with the rapidity and almost deus-ex-machina ending but must admit that I wept at Pitt's appreciation of the unique lovableness of Charlott in the end. Otherwise the character development and interaction was well-crafted and held my interest. A good read for fans, but not a starting place.
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on January 29, 2004
This book features well-developed characters, an interesting investigation and plenty of suspense. The only weak spot is the somewhat improbable use of Pitt's wife as an information gatherer. This part seems forced. Some of the characters come across as politically correct goody two shoes types, and that is improbable historically.
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