Top critical review
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For Lovers of historical mysteries everywhere!
on 1 September 2001
The Hyde Park headsman is one in the long series of Inspector Pitt mysteries; Inspector Pitt solves grisly murders in Late Victorian London with the (mostly) unwanted help of his clever wife Charlotte, beautiful sister-in-Law Emily and young housemaid Gracie. As with all of Anne Perry's Victorian mysteries the spirit of the Victorian age comes alive with her vivid descriptions of a Victorian London that spans all the social classes of the time. Unlike some 'real' Victorian novels the leading women in Perry's Victorian England are strong and clever more akin in spirit to the feisty ladies of Regency novels of Jane Austen. When the body of a respectable Naval Captain is found decapitated on the Hyde park lake, newly promoted Superintendent Pitt must try to find out whether the killer is a escaped lunatic or someone the naval captain new... as is usual in Perrian London the answer is always a lot more complicated then is first thought. 'The Hyde Park Headsman' also shows a little emotional drama as Charlotte notices how taken Pitt is with a courageous widow. Charlotte's jealousy is compounded by her guilt at spending so much time away from Pitt whilst decorating the new large house. Anne Perry's strength lies in her lively descriptions of Victorian London, with her common use of Victorian products and traditions that have been long forgotten by all but researchers and historians, her weakness lies in the dialogue of the characters which often feels false, it is neither the well thought out formal speech of the Victorians nor is it the more colloquial language of today, her witticisms are not greatly witty and her working class characters are so unbearable 'mockney' and over the top it is laughable. If you can ignore these minor problems and they are really minor in the scheme of things, then you will really enjoy Anne Perry generally and 'The Hyde Park Headsman' in particular.