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Those who like to pillory the Victorians do so for their application of a double standard, licentiousness in private while appearing spotlessly upright in public. Callander Square is a powerful commentary on that double standard, as the story strips away the cloaks of respectability among neighbors in an upper class neighborhood.
Upper class lives were then seldom examined . . . except by ladies who were gossiping. When two dead babies are found by accident buried in Callander Square, it becomes Inspector Thomas Pitts' duty to examine all of those lives . . . looking for who the mother was. Pitts' theory is that if you can find the mother, you can find the murderer . . . or the circumstances of death if it wasn't murder.
The wealthy men and women in the square do their best to fend off Pitt by focusing him on their servants. Unsuspected by them, Pitts' wife, Charlotte, decides that she wants to find the mother too . . . but to succor rather than to accuse her. Charlotte and her sister Emily play an undercover role in which Emily is the Upstairs mole and Charlotte is the Downstairs mole. Soon, the skeletons are rattling in all the relevant closets. And crimes multiply!
This mystery presents an interesting problem. How do you investigate when all the "good" people either won't talk to you . . . or lie when they do? These people are so delicate that they won't even come out and discuss their concerns. One has to hint around . . . and hope that the message is received and understood. So there's a dance of manners involved here inside of a mystery which is inside of a dysfunctional society. For those who like novels of manners, there is much to enjoy here in addition to the mystery.
I give Ms. Perry great credit for hiding the villains until late in the book. You will know in the last 80 pages or so who did what, but it's a totally incomprehensible mystery before then. If she had shortened up the end a bit, I would have graded the book higher. But the climax is more like a tea party that's gone on too long than a climax until the last few pages.
The writing is superb. A large number of characters are fully developed, and the development is used well to advance the plot.
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on 31 October 2009
Gripping follow up to 'The Cater Street Hangman' with excellent characterisations, sympathetic team of Charlotte and Pitt and a close eye on the moral imbalances of the time. Mystery is well thought out too.
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on 31 July 2003
This is one of those rare books that you have to read in one go. Anne Perry keeps you guessing until the end and highlights what life was really like in the Victorian times. A throughly good thriller without too much horror or graphic detail! Although centered around Inspector Pitt and his wife Charlotte, it also encompasses the different class structures within society and how they interact with each other. Definitely an informative, enlightening and enjoyable read
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on 17 December 2010
I am collecting and reading all the books in the Thomas & Charlotte Pitt series. I think this is number two. I've read quite a few but after I read the first I've read them all in the wrong order. However, each book is complete in itself. This is exceptionally good. It's the first time Charlotte and her sister 'meddle' in one of Thomas's cases and help him solve it.
As to service. It arrived quite quickly and was in good condition. I read it over two days; Anne Perry's books are so easy to read.
Once I've got them all, I will start at the beginning again and read them in the correct order.
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on 26 December 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 27 May 2015
Another book I had to start twice in order to get each different character clear in my head. Why oh why will authors create characters with similar names? Not only did we have Callander Square but we had the Campbells and the Carltons - two different families living there. Very muddling.
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on 13 January 2010
Another excellent Anne Perry novel in her Thomas and Charlotte Pitt Series. Once again Charlotte Pitt helps her husband Thomas solve a murder with her ability to pick up pieces of information from the backstairs staff in upper and middle class Victorian households.
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on 24 June 2014
As this was her 1st Pitt mystery it was backwards for me I started reading Pitt from the library in any order then I got a list of the internet now I am reading from beginning in order of any I haven't read yet if you are a fan you will love it
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on 16 April 2014
Once again I have bought a book by ann perry really good reading the book was in good condition when it arrived in the time stated by the sellar
Thankyou
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on 15 April 2014
loved the story from beginning to end. would recommend to all those who love anne perry books. have ordered more.

headline a great yarn
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