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A Breach of Promise [Mass Market Paperback]

Anne Perry
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 7 1999 William Monk Novels
In a sensational breach of promise suit, two wealthy social climbers are suing on behalf of their beautiful daughter, Zillah. The defendant is Zillah's alleged fiancé, brilliant young architect Killian Melville, who adamantly declares that he will not, cannot, marry her. Utterly baffled by his client's refusal, Melville's counsel, Sir Oliver Rathbone, turns to his old comrades in crime--investigator William Monk and nurse Hester Latterly. But even as they scout London for clues, the case suddenly and tragically ends. An outcome that no one--except a ruthless murderer--could have foreseen.

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From Amazon

The promises that are breached, broken, and never born in Anne Perry's rich and resonant new William Monk mystery all have to do with the roles and positions of women in Victorian society. At the center of the book is a rousing courtroom drama, as young Zillah Lambert--daughter of a wealthy, well-meaning northern businessman and his socially ambitious wife--sues an immensely gifted architect, Killian Melville. Melville, Zillah argues, failed to live up to his promise of marriage and thereby ruined her chances of making any sort of acceptable match. Private detective Monk is brought into the case by lawyer Oliver Rathbone when his client (Melville), facing financial and social ruin, still refuses to offer any reason for his dastardly conduct.

Monk's attentions are occupied elsewhere, too. Hester Latterly, the courageous nurse who worked with Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War, and whose favors Monk and Rathbone both desire, is looking after a British officer, Gabriel Sheldon, who was badly wounded and disfigured in India. Gabriel's wife, Perdita, is having trouble adjusting to her husband's broken body and spirit. "It was not Perdita's fault that she was confused and frightened," Monk muses. "She had been protected all her short life. She had not chosen to be, it was her assigned role." Monk has also promised a housemaid in the Sheldons' service that he will look for her two little nieces--deaf and deformed from birth--who were abandoned by their mother almost 20 years before. As the cases tangle and combine (perhaps a tad too coincidentally for some tastes, but, then again, real life is full of coincidences), Perry manages to show us the many ways in which women were made to pay for their place in a male-dominated society. She also delivers a touching and surprisingly suspenseful story. Other Monk books in paperback: The Silent Cry, Cain His Brother, Defend and Betray, Weighed in the Balance. --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this latest William Monk tale (after The Silent Cry, 1997), Perry offers her strongest indictment yet of Victorian England and a society "where beauty and reputation were the yardsticks of worth." Barrister Sir Oliver Rathbone defends Killian Melville, a talented young architect, in a breach of promise suit brought by Melville's benefactor, Barton Lambert, in support of Lambert's daughter Zillah. Melville insists that Mrs. Lambert, desperate that her daughter marry, misconstrued his friendship with the young woman. Meanwhile, Hester Latterly is hired to nurse Gabriel Athol, who was tragically injured in India and whose wife, Perdita, finds her desire to understand his suffering thwarted by a brother-in-law who insists that women be shielded from the realities of war and violence. Hester befriends Perdita's maid, Martha, who is desperate to find her two deaf, disfigured nieces who vanished years ago when her brother died and his wife disappeared. Rathbone hires Monk to investigate Melville and the Lamberts; Hester implores Monk to help Martha. The first case ends tragically before the startling truth behind Melville's refusal to marry is revealed; the second project ends on a happier note. Perry does a masterful job depicting Victorian hypocrisy regarding women. But she draws her stories together with an incredible connection whose dissonance spoils an otherwise exceptional novel. Mystery Guild main selection.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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OLIVER RATHBONE LEANED BACK in his chair and let out a sigh of satisfaction. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK POORLY READ Sept. 30 2002
Format:Audio Cassette
Simon Jones' reading was disappointing and irritating. It was choppy and brusk, nearly without any emotion or 'feeling'. His voices tended to be the same- nasal and abrupt for men, breathy for women, so it was difficult to tell the characters apart. His unfortunate treatment was very distracting for what is one of Ms Perry's best books and will discourage me from purchasing any more read by him. If you enjoy Anne Perry and wish to listen to her works on tape, I would recommend David McCallum's performances of her Pitt books- they are excellently done. Bottom line: read the book or try the unabridged by a different reader.
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5.0 out of 5 stars MORE TWISTS AND TURNS THAN A ROLLERCOASTER!! March 7 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book "grabbed" me from the first page. I honestly felt as though I was there with the main characters, participating in their experiences and world. As I'd suspected, my INITIAL guess regarding the reason pretty young Zilla's supposed fiance "backed out" was totally "off-base," and made complete sense when it was ultimately divulged. The writing style is lively, EVERYTHING falls neatly into place, and thus I UNHESITATINGLY classify this novel as a COMPELLING "read." I had trouble putting it down once I got "into" it, and found the details related to life and customs during that period to be enlightening, particularly since I'm not a "well-versed" history buff, per se. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading works of general fiction which are neither exceedingly lengthy nor go into painstaking detail.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent novel July 28 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Anne Perry once again returns to a favorite theme -- People will go to great lengths to avoid exposure of a deeply held secret. In this novel there are several persons who are concealing their pasts and identities and the last revelation is the most surprising.
Her knowledge of Victorian England, of Victorian police procedures at this time and of Victorian class structure and inhibitions is once again revealed by the authenticity of her
narrative.
Anne Perry knows a great deal more than most persons about the most dynamic woman of Victorian England -- Florence Nightingale -- and her knowledge enriches her portrayal of Hester Latterly and of the post-Crimea period in England. Nightingale was a suffragist (one of the first signers of a petition for woman suffrage which was circulated by her friends, John Stuart Mill and his wife Harriet Taylor); one of the first statisticians -- and one of the first members of the Statistical Society in England; a consultant to Queen Victoria and her consort, Prince Albert and a pragmatic and dedicated visionary who spent her life in the service to the sick to which she had dedicated herself when she was only 17. Unfortunately she contracted what was then called "Crimean Fever" during her service in the dreadful British military hospitals of the Crimean War. Recent research indicates that it was probably Brucellosis, caused by
an organism which is and was epidemic and endemic in that region and is characterized by remittant fevers and malaise. (It also occurs in the U.S. among persons who work with cattle and recent cases have been reported in the Western U.S.) Since the germ theory of disease was not available at that time, Nightingale was not diagnosed properly, though she shared the ailment with many others who had served in that region at that time. Hester reflects frequently on her admired mentor and role model, though she mistakenly describes Nightingale's intermittent illnesses as "hypochondria."
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4.0 out of 5 stars A slightly unusual Perry premise... Aug. 31 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Most of Anne Perry's works dwell on the darker aspects of human nature, notably various sexual perversions hidden under the veneer of upper-class and middle-class Victorian society. Some of her recent works especially in the Inspector Monk series have also dwelt upon the status of Victorian women of good families, notably the tremendous barriers imposed to them professionally in medicine. More recently, her books have touched more explicitly upon political issues of the day.
This is a slightly unusual Inspector Monk book, in that there is no sexual perversion hidden as the motive for a murder. I shouldn't give away too much of the plot for those who have not read this book. The story is about the fragility of reputation, the impossibly limited choices available to young women in that society, and the ways in which friendships can be misconstrued.
One of the most effective scenes for me was where Sir Oliver Rathbone (the defense lawyer) is neatly boxed in by a match-making mother, and the way in which he understands and reads the minds of the women around him. This is one of the reasons I have kept this particular book, above all the others.
The story-line is at least initially not as dark as the typical Anne Perry (warning: her works are not for the squeamish), with the first half of the book being about a trial for breach of promise brought against one of the most brilliant young architects who refuses to marry a young woman. Why he refuses to marry her is not made clear until the middle of the story, and it certainly comes as a shock to all concerned. The second half of the book is much darker, in that the murder is driven by the personal greeds of one of the principal characters in the trial.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is a must read for those who love unexpected outcomes of the book!! I was assigned to read this for school, but I thoroughly enjoyed it to its fullest! The setting and language used make it a whole different society from today's world. It is an escape from our world, and sets the reader in a world of courtesy, rumors, elegant charm, riches, and scandal, which describe the Victorian England setting. Perry portrays her thoughts and ideas through masterful writing skills which draw the reader right into to the novel, just as if the reader was part of the gallery for Mellville's trial. It is hard to put down, and each chapter does not focus on one character, but portrays the lives of different characters with different occupations and lifestyles. It is also a book that makes you think of the tactics that each character might try next, in order to succeed. So relax, fix yourself a cup of tea, and enjoy your reading time as you travel far back into Victorian England for a story that is riveting and stirring to the emotions, while giving you a good feeling for the 'good guy'!
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars good book, poor reader
As a long-time fan of Anne Perry, I decided to check out this one as a book-on-tape (after all, that's how I stumbled on my first Anne Perry novel, Pentecost Alley). Read more
Published on Aug. 4 2001
3.0 out of 5 stars Atmosphere Great, Plot Mediocre
Perry again delivers a book full of evocative Victorian details. She manages to give a feeling of what life was like in such a different time period -- but she's done it before,... Read more
Published on May 18 2001 by Annag Chandler
4.0 out of 5 stars Suing Him When He Backs Out Of Marrying You
I read this mystery set in Victorian England to ascertain how one of these breach of promise cases worked back then. Read more
Published on May 26 2000 by carol irvin
5.0 out of 5 stars A Breach of Promise
This latest in Perry's series about Monk and Hester Latterly continues the personal thread of their relationship along with a tantalizing mystery so well set in Victorian England... Read more
Published on April 4 2000 by Pat
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down
I was up 'till 3am to finish it. The coincidences were a little much, but the suspense was grand. I think it was Perry's best yet (and I've read 'em all).
Published on Feb. 28 2000 by ValJean Kluppel
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat slow, but not bad.
This isn't usually my type of mystery book, however I found the view of Victorian England interesting. Read more
Published on Jan. 25 2000 by Old Fisherman
5.0 out of 5 stars a rockin' victorian-period mystery
I'm not normally much of a mystery fan, but I loved this one. Lots of fun twists and turns. My only criticism would be that the sympathetic characters come off as mouthpieces for... Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2000 by Benjamin Crowell
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
From a historical point of view, from a woman's point of view this was an excellent book. I was disapointed at the way it ended but it was very good reading none the less.
Published on Dec 16 1999
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