Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover
This is the beginning of Phryne Fisher's adventures. A wealthy flapper in 1920's England, who began life in poverty in Australia, Phryne decides to battle boredom and ennui by going back to Australia and becoming a private investigator. All very light, but with a kernel of serious concern, and portraying 20's Australia very well. The story is interesting, the writing is very good and often tongue-in-cheek, and Stephanie Daniel provides exactly the right narration -- the perfect inflection and tone of voice for a rich, well-educated, sophisticated woman of the world in the time period portrayed, with an expert delivery of ironic and humorous lines. The first Phryne Fisher book I read was one later in the series, and I enjoyed it so much that I am now working on listening to the entire series in order.
This is the sort of book which will be enjoyed by people who like Amelia Peobody books -- the same sort of independent heroine with an eccentric view of the world, all done with fun and humor. A great escapist experience.
Although Audible is not listing it as such, "Blind Justice " is a William Monk story, the 19th in the series. The story focuses primarily on Monk and Hester's friend, Oliver Rathbone, former brilliant barrister who has recently been elevated to the Bench.
The case being heard in Judge Rathbone 's court is a charge of fraud brought against a minister for pressing his parishioners to give large sums to provide food and housing to the homeless, primarily those in Africa, and then pocketing most of the money. After hearing the prosecution's case, Rathbone is sure the man is guilty. However, the defense produces a persuasive witness to discredit the prosecution witntsses by painting them to be feeble minded, naive and unbalanced. Rathbone realizes that he has incriminating evidence in his possession which would totally discredit this defense witness. Because he feels so strongly about the wrongs done to the fraud victims, all in the name of God, Rathbone turns the evidence over to the prosecuting barrister without notifying the defense. The witness changes his story and it is clear that the case will end in a guilty verdict.
Rathbone is arrested the next day for "perverting the course of justice, " and the remainder of the story concerns Rathbone's trial and Monk and Hester's search for any evidence which might mitigate Rathbone's act. It is clear that Rathbone is guilty of the charge against him, so they can only hope to find information that could lesson the punishment by keeping him out of prison.
Many of Anne Perry's books have plots which depend on an investigation, a criminal trial, and a verdict as the climax. Rather like a Victorian Law & Order UK. It is often during the trials that the most dramatic moments occur. I enjoy these fictional trials as a type of puzzle, trying to figure out how the trial will get turned on its head to reach the desired verdict.
As a former law professional, I must warn those who don't know (if there are any) that you sometimes need to suspend disbelief when it comes to the technical aspects of the criminal courts in these books. For me the enjoyment of the puzzle, the well-drawn characters and the masterful depiction of Victorian London make the suspension well worth while. And, of course, the superlative narration by Davina Porter doubles the pleasure.
By the time this book came out in 1990, beginning the Monk and Hester series, Anne Perry had already been writing the Inspector Pitt novels for 11 years, and I had read all 9 of the then published books in that series. Clearly, I liked the Pitt books, particularly the characters and the historic detail concerning woman's place in the middle and upper classes.
But when I read the first Monk book, "Face of a Stranger," I was blown away. Set at an earlier time in the 19th century, shortly after the Crimean War, this book had more complicated characters I liked much more than Pitt and Charlotte. A police inspector who has almost total amnesia from an accident, trying to carry on in his police job without letting his superiors know that he has no memory. And an unmarried woman who nursed with Florence Nightingale on the battlefields of the Crimea, now trying to improve health care services in England and make a living for herself. Both characters are complicated, opinionated, and abrasive, especially with each other.
Not for these characters the almost immediate attraction of Pitt and Charlotte, growing into love and marriage all in the beginning of the series. No, Monk and Hester Latterly dislike each other at first glance, and even after each begins to see the positive characteristics of the other, their interactions are often laced with antagonism and argument. They become unwilling allies in the case which Monk investigates in this first book, and their subsequent adventures continue to be on a less than amiable footing for some time through the series.
The historical details regarding everything from the hospitals of that day, to the low status of Scotland Yard, to the precarious nature of life for those who have to struggle to support themselves, and the vast difference of the lives of the well-to-do, are fascinating and presented in a way that often causes the reader to recognize the injustice of such matters.
After this first Monk book, I continued to read both the Pitt books and the Monk books, but I always looked forward the most to the Monk books. It has been interesting to see the development of the characters, including Sir Oliver Rathbone, over the years.
Listening to this book was a pleasant return to the beginning, made even better by the superlative narration of Davina Porter. She does the accents of Englishmen and women from all over the empire, and from all areas and classes of London, impeccably.
Long may this series continue to flourish!