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Although I have an interest in the characters in this book, I simply can't stand this series anymore. The author has an obvious interest in 'exposing' the oppression suffered by women and the lower classes in Victorian England. However, instead of using her skill to show this through plot-line and character actions, the listener must suffer through Hester's repetitious and strident commentary. Repetition abounds, from her polemics to character's ruminations and turns of phrase that are the same in substance *and in words* from chapter to chapter! Different characters even use the exact same phrases to describe the odd behavior of the children in the book.
Hester's beliefs are quite modernistic and are revealed as such increasingly throughout the books. In addition, I had a hard time accepting the courtroom scenes as being plausible for the Victorian era. I wonder strongly if the 'issue' revealed (I don't want to give anything away, although you will probably guess it nearly immediately as I did) would be handled in such an open and sensitive way.
I would happily have missed most of the scenes in the house of the murder victim, particularly the excruciatingly long dining room scenes, which barely forwarded the plot. How long can one listen to Felicia basically say the same things over and over?
I was also struck by the fact that, although on his past cases, Monk was supposedly 'tireless' and 'brilliant', that in the first three books of the series he is confused, dense, and easily frustrated. The fact that he never interviews the boot boy is very odd, and I think is just a setup so that Valentine (unbelievably) will tell his story in the courtroom.
What a great story this could have been?! So many indications of brilliant writing! If only she had a good editor and someone to tell her to get off the soapbox, I would love this series.
The narrator was absolutely excellent. Top notch.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
The book could be in the Guinness Book of Records for most frequent use of the phrase "aquiline nose." Perry resorts to cliche to tell some of her tale, and as in the previous seven Perry historical novels I've listed to, 20th century ideas often bubble just under the surface, despite her very good verisimilitude of historical detail. This novel is particularly weak in that respect, yet it kept me on my exercise cycle and working at my household chores a little longer than usual.
It's a tale of Oliver Wrathbone and Nurse Latterly as much as Monk, but Monk continues to piece together his past through detection and memory recovery (though he is not as sharp as usual in uncovering the mystery intertwined in this tale). The last third is mostly court room procedural, and that's where the anachronistic ideas and even language surface the most. Also, Perry provides more detail of the dirty deeds than usual, making it a slightly darker listen. Still it's a very good Victorian soap if you are willing to suspend your disbelief and are interested in the continuing adventures of the characters OR in detailed description of the type of soap available to Victorian households mid 19th century. Davina Porter continues her excellent narration.
18 of 21 people found this review helpful