Mystery Books for Sale

[ Home ]
[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]


by Anne Perry
Ballantine Books, October 2001
352 pages
ISBN: 0345440013

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Another meticulously researched, elegantly written book, (without resorting to stilted dialogue) from Anne Perry, Funeral in Blue brings William Monk, ex policeman and his wife, Hester Latterly, Crimean War nurse, back from the American Civil War to their home in London. The book opens in an operating room where Dr. Kristian Beck, using chloroform, a progressive procedure, to put his patient out, is excising a large tumor from Mary Ellsworth's abdomen. Hester, observing, marvels that Dr Beck is so up-to-date that he uses anesthesia to alleviate pain, and how thoughtful and skillful he is.

Lady Callandra Daviot, a governor of the hospital, has a secret passion for Dr. Beck, but since he is married, it is not seemly for her to be seen to be in love with him. Fermin Thorpe, the Chairman of the Hospital Governors, dislikes Beck, who is from Vienna, because he is a better surgeon than Thorpe.

Hester returns home to find her brother. Charles, distraught. Imogen, his wife, is acting strangely and he is afraid that she is having an affair, which would bring dishonor upon him. He has tried to follow her, but has not been able to discover what she is doing. Hester promises to find out what she can.

Shortly thereafter, Kristian's wife is found dead, along with Sarah Mackesson, an artist's model. Both are in Argo Allardyce's studio and both have had their necks broken. Elissa Beck has been sitting for Argo. Her father had commissioned a portrait, so there is a reason for her to have been there, but who killed her? Her husband is of course suspected. Lady Callandra asks Monk to help find the true murderer.

Monk investigates the death of Elissa and Hester investigates the problems besetting her brother and his wife. Both puzzles converge, and with her usual skill, Perry weaves contemporary social problems into the storyline. Beck and his wife were both rebels in the 1848 uprising in Vienna, so Monk travels for 3 days to get from London to Vienna to try and find if someone from those days bore a grudge against Elissa and finally came to London to murder her. At the same time, the trial proceeds in London, with Elissa's father defending Beck against the charge of murder.

There are no jarring anachronisms to take us out of mid-Victorian times. Set against the blockade of Southern US ports by the north causing a cotton famine in Lancashire, the plight of married women with reference to their loss of rights to their own property, the universal distrust of those from a different country or whose religious practices differ from that of the majority; the difficulties of travel, Perry has written another winner.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, August 2001

This book has more than one review. Click here to show all.

[ Top ]



Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]
[ Home ]