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5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent novel
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...
Published on July 27 2002 by Pat McKnight

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK POORLY READ
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...
Published on Sept. 30 2002 by Patricia


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK POORLY READ, Sept. 30 2002
By 
Patricia (United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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 Another excellent novel, July 27 2002
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This review is from: A Breach of Promise (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
This review is from: A Breach of Promise (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. This person's crimes are only revealed right at the end, so in that respect, the book is an amazing cliff-hanger. We don't know if this person was guilty until the very end of the last murder.
I have to admit to some problems with this work. Firstly, the motive for the architect's murder is not made clear. One of the problems is that we never get into the mind of his murderer, and that person's past is reconstructed by Monk. From that point of view, this book is not that successful. In the past, I have fully understood why person X murdered person Y (or several persons). In this particular instance, the murder seemed to make no sense. Secondly, I find it hard to believe that while men would be taken in by a cross-dresser, that women would also be unable to identify a cross-dresser. I won't go into more details, but I am surprised that more suspicions were not raised early on.
Although the book is one of Perry's best, I have to also admit that her work is extremely dark. I began reading her in a very dark period in my life. Today, I find the earlier works very good but they are also deeply disturbing. Also in murder stories, I prefer a variety of motives when murder is committed, ranging from psychopathic casualness (chilling in of itself) to blind rage to greed or perversion. While Perry has been widening the range of motives for murder in her novels, most of her murders are committed for sexual (and the odd political) reasons. Reading a whole string of Perrys in a row can therefore be quite depressing and even yawn-producing [with the same narrow range of motives trotted out]. From that perspective, she has moved from being an auto-buy to a "wait-and-see". Perhaps, the surprise element in every series, even a great one, wears out sooner or later, and this has happened with the two brilliant series created by Perry. I still think she has a lot of talent in her; it is just that I no longer resonate with most of her stories.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A most thrilling and emotional novel for the mystery fan, Aug. 21 2001
By 
Zachary D. Langer (Middlefield, Ohio United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Breach of Promise (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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4.0 out of 5 stars So what's a girl to do?, Nov. 9 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: A Breach of Promise (Mass Market Paperback)
I find it hard to credit that someone could fall in love with someone without knowing even the most basic thing about them. And I find it even less creditable that a person could become engaged to someone without noticing it. And, finally, how could one so reportedly gifted be so persistently unobservant and obstinant in defending a suit of this kind. But, having said all that, I have to say that I enjoyed this book. I kept wondering when, and if there would be a murder, and who the victim would be, even though I figured out the subplot before it was announced. I wish that Perry had not ended the whole thing quite so abruptly. I have a considerable fondness for Rathbone, and wonder why Hester is not more attracted to him. Perhaps his thoughtfulness and male sensitivity are a bit too modern for our thoroughly liberated Victorian heroine. Hester appears to prefer the rough masculine good(if somewhat insensitive)intentions of Inspector Monk. I like this trio of investigators. Hope Perry doesn't break them up.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good Victorian Novel, Mediocre Mystery, Sept. 29 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: A Breach of Promise (Mass Market Paperback)
This is the first "Monk" mystery-novel I've read, and if I return to them it will be as novels. The psychological introspection of the two main characters is harrowing. The confining social atmosphere is terrifically realized, although Monk and Rathbone are perhaps too modern in their PC attitudes. The author so convincingly evokes Victorian conventional morality that neither I nor the blinkered protagonists ever guessed the surprise that is so appropriately at the core of this novel. In an artfully constructed plot, the "real" mystery arrives late in a rather tedious trial, when least expected. This is a memorable novel of interior mystery rather than action. I would have understood the characters' romancing more if I had started earlier in the series. If there's a flaw in the book, it may be an excess of feeling, of emotional flagellation--particularly in comparison to Bruce Alexander's similar Sir John Fielding series--and what seems a criminal dearth of legal preparation on the part of Rathbone (or is that typical of Vic. lawyers, Ms. Perry?). The agonizing sleuthing actually wins too easily, then romance triumphs, and the book ends with no satisfyingly clever resolution. Maybe Perry couldn't figure out proof of the villain's legal culpability?
(Did anyone else think the architecture of Melville was modelled on Frank Lloyd Wright's? I actually thought Perry might have Melville escape to America and somehow, ah, influence his mother!)
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3.0 out of 5 stars Usual Anne Perry Fare: Victoriana viewed from the 1990's, Sept. 21 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: A Breach of Promise (Mass Market Paperback)
I have read and enjoyed all of Anne Perry's books, but certainly not for the mystery plot - the solution is always contrived (here, the murderer left too much to chance, in "Cain His Brother" the main character would have had to be an acrobat and have the gift of teletransportation to have done what he was supposed to in the time he was supposed to have done it), and there are holes you can drive an hansom through. I think that's because Ms. Perry's main goal is putting across her views on the social and gender inequalities in English society in the Victorian age. I totally agree with her feminist and liberal views, so I go on reading her books, but she could really make a greater effort in consistency. Here, as in "Weighed in the Balance", the coincidence of having Hester Latterly working in a place where someone is connected to the main mystery is just too much. The main plot was quite sufficient to make her point - though I guessed what was Melville's real problem before I was a third of the way into the book - having the link between the plot and subplot was contrived and unnecessary. And I agree with the other readers who think the ending was much too abrupt. Also, it's very 1990's and American (yes, I know she comes from New Zealand, same difference) to have the characters call each other by their first names, specially a nurse in someone's employ does not call her employers by name or, talking to a child, refer to his parents by first name. Did Jane Austen ever let us know what Mr. and Mrs. Bennet's, or Mrs. Dashwood's, first names were? It bothers me in that it does not give the right formal atmosphere of social conversation of the time. I was glad to see that Ms. Perry seems to have outgrown her love of the verb "to obey" and all its form (obedience, obediently, etc.). She only uses it about ten times in this book - albeit sometimes inappropriately, as when Monk "obediently" follows a servant taking him in to see the master of the house - whereas I've counted up to 25 times in earlier books. A little thing, I agree, but very annoying to a reader (Americans don't use that word so much, do they?). Anyway - to sum it up, this was not the best of Anne Perry's efforts, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I do wish next time she develops the ending more - it's always so satisfying to confront the culprit - and pays more attention to consistency and verbal mores.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Latest Perry not up to snuff, Jan. 12 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: A Breach of Promise (Hardcover)
I have read most of Anne Perry's mysteries and, while I still find her very readable, I wish she would edit herself a bit more judiciously. Lately, it seems her concerns about Victorian women's positions are too often verbalized and not demonstrated. In 1999, none of us need to be persuaded of the injust treatment of Victorian women. Too, her characters she has created to represent "society's" unsympathetic views are invariably flat and uninteresting. How much more intriguing if the boorish brother in PROMISE were truly concerned for his sibling and vulnerable in his confusion over what to do, if he had a sense of humor or compassion. I found the main plot intriguing, but the subplot rather dull until it finally, and unconvincingly, merged with the main plot. I was also disappointed by the lack of closure in the story--it seemed quite tricky to get the murderer to confess or have sufficient proof of the truth. Instead, the story ended suddenly, needing a good two chapters to tie up loose ends. I'll keep reading Anne Perry, because the atmosphere she creates is excellent, and her mysteries can be very intriguing, but her weaknesses are becoming more apparent with each new book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another tour-de-force from Anne Perry!, Nov. 4 1998
This review is from: A Breach of Promise (Hardcover)
Anne Perry has done it again! "A Breach of Promise" is the best yet in the William Monk/Hester Latterly/Oliver Rathbone series, and Perry succeeds brilliantly in portraying the fog-bound hypocrisy of Victorian England. The atmosphere of cold, foggy and drizzly Victorian London can be almost be felt and the attitudes and behaviour of the English aristocracy of the time are harshly, yet compassionately, portrayed. And if that is a contradiction in terms, read the book to find out why.
The plot itself is well thought-out although the denouement fell curiously flat, almost as though Perry ran out of stamina. And the relationship between William Monk and Hester Latterly is growing by leaps and bounds - I look forward to see how Perry will develop this theme in her subsequent books. I feel that Monk and Latterly are a more hard-edged couple than Perry's other creation of Thomas and Charlotte Pitt - although both William Monk and Thomas Pitt are examples of people from outside the charmed social circles who carry considerable loads of cynicism and angst.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quintessential Perry, Oct. 1 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: A Breach of Promise (Hardcover)
A Breach of Promise begins slowly as Anne Perry sets her scene in the courtroom drawing us into Oliver Rathbone's latest and perhaps most frustrating case yet. Ms. Perry is a master manipulator of her audience and despite the rather plodding nature of the first hundred pages or so the reader is so completely joined in Rathbone's simultaneous frustration and determination, that one must see the case through with him. The pace picks up, however, as soon as Monk and Hester enter the story, their peculiarly intense interaction having always driven this series beyond the bounds of most Victorian mysteries. But despite the fact that Breach is quintessential Perry, with the requisite stunning twist in the main plot, and a moving subplot involving the household in which Hester is currently employed, the nature in which the two plots become connected struck this reader as somewhat contrived considering the usually tight and highly individual manner in which Perry handles her material. Ultimately though, Perry's amazing talent for conveying emotion through the details of place and character enable her to rise above a slight thinness in plot. A Breach of Promise is an emotionally satisfying tale, and in addition, a powerful social commentary on not only the Victorian era's valuing of beauty and marriage, but on our own culture's preoccupation with these issues as well.
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A Breach of Promise
A Breach of Promise by Anne Perry (Mass Market Paperback - Sept. 7 1999)
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