Cardington Crescent is the 8th novel in Anne Perry’s Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series. Perry does a fabulous job of capturing the details of a Victorian detective mystery- the class restrictions, social mores, interior design, etc. of the 1880s. Cardington Crescent follows the Pitts as they investigate two murders- an unknown housemaid whose body appears chopped up in pieces in Bloomsbury, and Charlotte’s brother-in-law, Lord George Ashworth, at his uncle’s townhouse in Cardington Close. The mystery spends most of its time in the stuffy drawing and dining rooms where George spent his last few days, with Charlotte joining the household ostensibly to comfort her sister but also to help her husband solve the murder.
I cannot get over the historical detail that Perry builds into her novels, from the duties performed by the ladies maids to the social expectations for women to the sleeping arrangements for the uppercrust- its all so richly textured. As with the other Perry novels I’ve read, some of the detail can slow things down, especially at the beginning before the crimes are introduced, but the payout at the end is worthwhile- its like a history lesson disguised by a murder mystery.
Finally, and unrelated to this particular novel but absolutely related to Anne Perry’s bonkers life story: in googling to find out what number this book was in the series, I discovered that Anne Perry was formerly known as Juliet Hulme, aka one of two teenage girls who murdered a woman in New Zealand in the 1950s. The story is fascinating (lesbian overtones and shades of Slender Man) and Peter Jackson obviously thought so too- his 1994 film Heavenly Creatures dramatized Anne/Juliet’s story (and also featured Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet in their first screen debuts). A former child murderer, now writing (excellent) Victorian murder mysteries- so, so weird.