Fans of Anne Perry -- and I am resolutely iffy -- have been waiting a long time for some visualization of her nineteenth-century mystery novels. Now, at last, with The Cater Street Hangman (Sunday, December 13; 9 to 11 p.m.; A&E), we have the first of what looks to be a promising string of two-hour TV movies based on her Inspector Pitt, under A&E's "Mysteries to Die For" umbrella.
Eoin McCarthy (Tomorrow Never Dies) stars as Pitt, the class-conscious copper, and Keeley Hawes (The Moonstone) as Charlotte Ellison, his upper-crust squeeze, whom he will meet here for the first time -- while investigating the serial murders of young women alone on Charlotte's street at night after a visit to the vicarage -- and whom he will subsequently marry, so as to have a spy among the resting classes. Eoin, with his chiseled Irish mug, is as sensitive as he is relentless. Keeley, with her steel specs and winsome bangs, is as nosy as she is delicious. Victorian England, circa 1881, is as gloomy and repressed as we have been led to believe by everybody from Jack the Ripper to Steven Marcus. "Where do you suspect the underworld is?" Pitt asks Charlotte, contemplating the stricken faces of impoverished children in the usual killer fog. In this altogether satisfactory inaugural installment, mention will also be made of atheism, abortion, "pernicious sermons," and many-limbed Kali, the Mother Goddess of overly erotic India.