Anne Perry, Bluegate Fields (1984)

I wasn’t overly enthusiastic with the first Perry I tried, but the more I persevere the better I like them. This is another Charlotte and Thomas Pitt investigation, this one much darker than Resurrection Row (which was written earlier). This time, it deals with the Victorian taboo of homosexuality, male prostitution and child abuse. And to make the picture complete, the stigma of syphilis. Not completely what you first imagine about Victorian London, but that’s what the series is about, uncovering the seediest aspects of this very proper, class-dominated society.

The only part that doesn’t convince me is Charlotte’s character. She is an aristocrat married to a policeman (a lower class), and thanks to this strange position, whenever her husband gets stuck in his investigations, especially as the police is unwilling to meddle into any upper-class scandal, she steps in and saves the day. This part seems utterly unrealistic, as far as my readings on Victorian society have informed me. Her marrying below her position would have made her a pariah and it’s very doubtful anyone from the upper-class would have agreed to receive her, much less to talk to her about private secrets. On a more personal note, I can’t help but find her a bit self-righteous. But of course, without her, the novel would be completely stuck, so I guess I’ll have to suspend my disbelief a little deeper…

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