Anne Perry Criticism - Essay

Publishers Weekly (review date 5 April 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Highgate Rise, in Publishers Weekly, Vol. 238, No. 16, April 5, 1991, p. 138.

[In the following review, the critic concludes, "Rounded out by a host of lively characters, [The Face of a Stranger] is a memorable tale."]

Having temporarily abandoned Victorian police inspector Thomas Pitt and his highborn wife, Charlotte, in her last, highly acclaimed novel, The Face of a Stranger, Perry features the duo once again. She exhibits her customary skill in recreating 19th-century London, but here her well-drawn contrasts of upstairs and downstairs Victorian society have added psychological acuity. And her focus on a social issue—the secret ownership by members of high society of appalling slum housing—lends depth to the mystery surrounding the death of Clemency Shaw, a courageous woman who devoted her life—and may have lost it—to exposing those who built their fortunes on the misery of the poor. Highgate is a posh Victorian neighborhood that becomes the scene of some highly dramatic house fires that consume people dear to Dr. Shaw, Clemency's husband, a free-speaking liberal who is Perry's most dynamic character to date. Just who is the target of these infernos? Thomas and Charlotte seek answers, while Charlotte in particular finds that Clemency's legacy of compassion did not die with her, Rounded out by a host of lively characters, this is a memorable tale.

Anne Perry with Diana Cooper Clark (Fall-Winter 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Interview with Anne Perry," in Clues, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 52-65.

[In the following interview, Perry discusses her writing style, her major characters, and the reason she places her detective fiction in the Victorian Era.]

[Cooper Clark:] You first published The Cater Street Hangman in 1979. As a novelist who is relatively new to the world of detective fiction, what kinds of problems have you encountered? In getting acknowledged? Having your books available? With sales? Advertising?

In America I have had few problems, although I don't know about advertising of course, not having been there. In Britain unfortunately I have had...

(The entire section is 7882 words.)

Emily Melton (review date 15 March 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Farrier's Lane, in Booklist, March 15, 1993, p. 1300.

[In the following review, Melton lauds Perry's Farrier's Lane.]

Perry's Thomas and Charlotte Pitt mysteries, set in Victorian London, are a long-running success on the historical whodunit circuit. In the duo's thirteenth adventure [Farrier's Lane]. Thomas is investigating the murder of a prominent judge, a crime he feels is linked to the macabre Farrier's Lane murder. A young Jew, Aaron Godman, was hanged for the Farrier's Lane crime some years before, but the murdered judge, who heard Godman's final appeal, seemed to be considering reopening the case. The evidence in both murders is frustratingly difficult to uncover and the witnesses strangely reluctant to talk. The stymied Pitt is under pressure from his superiors to solve the judge's murder quickly and leave the earlier case buried. It's Charlotte to the rescue, proving that a wife's social contacts are as valuable as a copper's badge. Perry is wonderfully adept at depicting the customs, manners, morality, fashions, and speech of Victorian London. Her characters are authentically and appealingly drawn, and her plot is sinister, gripping, and intense, with a surprising but satisfying ending. Like the earlier entries in the series, this is certain to be popular with fans of historical mysteries.

Thomas Boyle (review date 17 October 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Strangled by Gaslight," in New York Times Book Review, October 17, 1993, p. 47.

[In the following review, Boyle attributes many of the problems of Perry's A Sudden, Fearful Death, to its unfocused protagonist William Monk.]

Anne Perry has published more than a dozen crime novels set in Victorian England. Her labors have brought her a wide readership and a certain beyond-the-genre literary distinction. A Sudden, Fearful Death is the fourth in a series whose nominal hero is William Monk, a police officer who left the London force under an unspecified cloud to set up shop as one of the first private detectives. He is subsidized by Lady Callandra...

(The entire section is 781 words.)

Anne Perry with John Darnton (interview date 5 March 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Writer Perry Faces Up to Dark Secret of Murder," in Star Tribune, March 5, 1995, p. IF.

[In the following interview, Perry discusses her involvement in a 1954 murder in New Zealand.]

Interviewing Anne Perry, the detective novelist who harbored the dark secret of her identity as an adolescent murderer, is frustrating. It's like trying to capture the mist that rolls off the mountains in the Scottish Highlands where she makes her home.

It is not that she is reluctant to talk. Far from it. The words come out in compulsive torrents. With little prompting she speaks about her early years, her childhood pneumonia and bronchitis, the "courage and...

(The entire section is 1389 words.)

Anne Perry with Mary Ann Grossman (interview date 15 March 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Long Ago Murder Haunts Mystery Writer Author Anne Perry," in St. Paul Pioneer Press, March 15, 1995.

[In the following interview, Grossman talks about her life and how she is dealing with the publicity surrounding her past.]

When Anne Perry says that "courage, compassion and integrity are the three greatest virtues," there isn't much doubt she's talking about the importance of these qualities in her own life.

Perry is the internationally known author of 20 Victorian mysteries, praised by critics and fans for their historical accuracy, attention to detail and explorations of the nuances of life in England when the sun never set on the Empire....

(The entire section is 1567 words.)

Barbara Wickens (essay date 27 March 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Haunted by Homicide," in Maclean's, Vol. 108, No. 13, March 27, 1995, p. 61.

[In the following essay, Wickens discusses the problems that have plagued Ann Perry since the revelation of her involvement in a 1954 homicide in New Zealand.]

Anne Perry is nothing if not persistent. For years she led the sort of hand-to-mouth lifestyle that has become the stereotype for the struggling artist. She began writing historical fiction when she was in her mid-20s, enduring 13 years of rejection slips before a publisher finally accepted her first novel in 1979. Even after that, she continued to support herself with odd jobs, from limousine dispatcher in Beverly Hills,...

(The entire section is 984 words.)

Emily Melton (review date August 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Cain His Brother, in Booklist, August, 1995, p. 1911.

[In the following review, Melton praises Perry's Cain His Brother for its "superb plotting, fine writing, intriguing characters, and outstanding historical detail."]

Perry's lingering fame from the murder she committed as an adolescent won't hurt her latest book's popularity, but there's no doubt that her historical mysteries would be critical and popular successes no matter what her background. Victorian detective William Monk returns [in Cain His Brother], this time in one of the most challenging cases he's ever faced. Genevieve Stonefield begs Monk to find her missing...

(The entire section is 238 words.)

Publishers Weekly (review date 22 January 1996)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Pentecost Alley, in Publishers Weekly, January 22, 1996, p. 62.

[In the following review, the critic praises Pentecost Alley stating, "As Perry edges toward her surprise ending, she crafts her tale with elegance, narrative depth and gratifying scope."]

The 16th Thomas and Charlotte Pitt mystery [Pentecost Alley], demonstrates Perry's trademark skill for enhancing well-designed mystery plots with convincing historical settings and cleverly drawn relationships among characters. In this outing, Pitt, last seen in Traitors Gate, tackles a case that could cost him his career. As it has been only two years since the unsolved...

(The entire section is 267 words.)

Anthony Lejeune (review date 6 May 1996)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "A Little Knowledge," in National Review, May 6, 1996, pp. 54-5.

[In the following review, Lejeune discusses the effect of knowing Perry's background on our reading of her work.]

"An incredible three million copies of her books have been sold in America," boast Anne Perry's British publishers. Incredible, no: if they say so, I believe them. A bit puzzling, yes; the reason for such popularity is not altogether clear. But the operative word in that boast is "America." Although Miss Perry is a British writer, living in Britain, her books are much less well known on the eastern side of the Atlantic. And that's not puzzling at all.

Her novels, set...

(The entire section is 1515 words.)

Publishers Weekly (review date 2 September 1996)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Weighed in the Balance, in Publishers Weekly, September 2, 1996, p. 116.

[In the following review, the critic lauds the courtroom scenes in Weighed in the Balance.]

The byzantine politics and aristocratic squabbles of a small German principality called Felzburg exasperate and puzzle William Monk in his seventh distinctive appearance (Cain His Brother) [Weighed in the Balance]. Monk, a Victorianera "agent of inquiry," is still haunted by a baffling amnesia, and he feels that his associates—the rigidly proper barrister Sir Oliver Rathbone and the uncompromising and outspoken nurse Hester Latterly—have taken on more than they can...

(The entire section is 281 words.)

Marietta Dunn (review date 29 January 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Weighed in the Balance, in Philadelphia Inquirer, January 29, 1997.

[In the following review, Dunn asserts that although Weighed in the Balance is not Perry's best work, the continuing narrative of William Monk does keep the reader coming back.]

Since 1979, the prolific Anne Perry has been turning out a stream of Victorian detective novels featuring Inspector Thomas Pitt and his high-born wife, Charlotte, as they uncover social evils in England and unmask the hypocrisy of those in high society.

Several years ago, Perry added a second Victorian series, one with a clever conceit at its core. The series has as its hero...

(The entire section is 551 words.)

Rich Gotshall (review date 27 April 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Ashworth Hall, in Indianapolis Star, April 27, 1997, p. D6.

[In the following review, Gotshall asserts that readers of Perry's Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series will not be disappointed with Ashworth Hall.]

Anne Perry is a novelist for the '90s.

The 1890s.

Her mysteries take place during the heyday of Victorian England. Her attention to detail and sense of social order make them read like the best of the works written during that period, rather than re-creations a century later.

Ashworth Hall is the 17th novel featuring Superintendent Thomas and Charlotte Pitt. Yet, the work stands...

(The entire section is 410 words.)

Linda DuVal (essay date 30 April 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Ann Perry Is a Master at Creating Fascinating Characters, Moral Dilemmas." in Gazette Telegraph, April 30, 1997.

[In the following essay, DuVal discusses Perry's writing style and use of characterization in her novels.]

British mystery writer Anne Perry is a master at creating fascinating characters and dramatic moral dilemmas. It's territory she's explored in her life, as well as her art.

As a teen-ager, Perry helped a friend murder her friend's mother. She served time for it. and doesn't talk about it in her interviews and book tours.

It's hard to believe this poised, compassionate woman was once convicted of a crime. She...

(The entire section is 1467 words.)

Jane Dickinson (review date 19 October 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Silent Cry, in Rocky Mountain News, October 19 1997, p. 4E.

[In the following excerpt, Dickinson complains of the obvious ending and difficult to believe plot of Perry's The Silent Cry.]

… Anne Perry's novels of Victorian England are prominent on the list of historical mysteries, a rapidly growing niche within the genre that some of us find a bit hard to take. Nevertheless, the best of the bunch deserve the attention of all mystery lovers. The Silent Cry, alas, is not among the best.

Perry's 1996 novel Pentecost Alley was one of the weaker nominees for an Edgar this year. The Silent Cry, though...

(The entire section is 331 words.)

Margo Kaufman (review date 23 November 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Silent Cry, in Los Angeles Times, November 23, 1997, p. E2.

[In the following excerpt, Kaufman praises Perry's The Silent Cry, stating that "[t]he denouement is shocking, and the characters are so richly drawn that you'll miss them when they're gone."]

… Anne Perry's new Victorian thriller, The Silent Cry, featuring surly amnesiac investigator William Monk and feisty nurse Hester Latterly, is the author's best effort in a couple of years.

Leighton Duff, a respected solicitor, is found beaten to death in St. Giles, a festering slum "only a stone's throw from Regent Street in the heart of London." Lying...

(The entire section is 245 words.)

Alex Auswaks (review date 16 January 1998)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Pentecost Alley, in Jerusalem Post, January 16, 1998, p. 99.

[In the following excerpt, Auswaks discusses the questions raised in Perry's Pentecost Alley.]

… Two years after the unsolved Ripper murders a young prostitute is found murdered [in Pentecost Alley]. The personal effects of Finlay FitzJames (including a Hellfire Club pin), a handsome and spoilt scion of a rich family, are found in her bed. Is he guilty?

His father is rich and powerful. No policeman dares move against such a family. The family refuses to cooperate. The prostitute's pimp is arrested, tried, sentenced and hanged. But then a second prostitute...

(The entire section is 308 words.)

Lori A. Curnin (review date 26 April 1998)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Brunswick Gardens, in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 26, 1998, p. D5.

[In the following review, Curnin lauds Perry's strong characterization in Brunswick Gardens.]

The mystery in Brunswick Gardens is simple: who pushed Unity Bellwood down the staircase, causing her death? The answer is not as simple as Anne Perry takes us back to a time in the late 1890s London, where intelligent women were forced to the sidelines, it was legal to beat a disobedient wife and Darwin's theory of evolution was just coming to light.

Inspector Thomas Pitt, a recurring Perry character, has the unenviable task of investigating the murder of...

(The entire section is 260 words.)

Margo Kaufman (review date 4 October 1998)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of A Breach of Promise, in Los Angeles Times, October 4, 1998, p. 2.

[In the following excerpt, Kaufman praises "the long-awaited romantic denouement [of Perry's A Breach of Promise], which brought tears to my eyes."]

Usually while reading Anne Perry's Victorian mysteries, I am struck by how little humanity has changed in a hundred years. But her latest William Monk novel, A Breach of Promise, knocked me for a loop.

Barrister Oliver Rathbone must defend Killian Melville, a talented young architect being sued for refusing to marry his alleged fiancee, Zillah Lambert, a charming and beautiful heiress. It is...

(The entire section is 291 words.)