Crack another case with William Monk.
©1992 Anne Perry; (P)1996 Recorded Books, LLC
I am an avid eclectic reader.
Davina Porter is becoming one of my favorite narrators. This is the third book in the Monk series. This book has more to do with Hester and the attorney Oliver. Some of the new characters in the story are great such as Hester's employer the Major. This book covers a darker problem in peoples behavior and goes into the problem women had in protecting their children when they had no rights as far as the law is concerned. Reading this series makes me realize how far women have come in obtaining equal rights even though their is still more work to be done and a battle to keep the rights we have obtained.
I found the first two novels slow and redundant, although it's only fair to say that I still couldn't put them down. This novel flows better, is significantly less repetitive and develops the characters of Hester and Oliver even more than that of Monk.
I have really enjoyed Perry's descriptions of the classes and time period, more than any other author who writes about that period - she vividly portrays the constraints placed on women, children and the servant class.
As a woman I feel badly for generally not liking women narrators. I find it easier to hear a man narrating a woman's part than the reverse. That being said, Davina Porter's narrations are so good that suspension of disbelief is nearly total for me.
This is the darkest yet of the three but also the easiest to believe and the most touching. Enjoy!
Anne Perry's books are well written, rich with historical details and the mystery always leads to something unexpected.
Of course, Davina Porter's narration is delightful and absolutely perfect for the story. What a golden voice!
Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover
That's the question posed in "Defend and Betray," the third novel featuring Detective William Monk, Nurse Hester Latterly, and Barrister Oliver Rathbone. The Carlyon case which occurs in this book involves the murder of General Thaddeus Carlyon during a dinner party at the home of some friends of the Carlyon's. After the police arrive, Carlyon's widow confesses to having murdered her husband, giving as a reason a story of jealousy which is patently untrue.
Hester is a friend of one of the Carlyon's daughters, who tells Hester about the situation. Hester suggests that Oliver Rathbone might be willing to represent Mrs. Carlyon at her trial. When Rathbone visits Mrs. Carlyon in prison, she continues to say that she killed her husband out of jealousy and refuses to give any other reason. From the facts, it is obvious that she really did commit the murder, so Rathbone, along with Hester, is searching for the real reason she would kill her husband. Rathbone also hires Monk to attempt to find the answer.
In the Grey case (Book 1), Anne Perry explored the power of men of a certain class, and their frequent immunity from the consequences of their acts. In the Moidore case (Book 2), the theme was the lengths to which a member of the ruling class would go to avoid any scandal or blight on their names, even to the extent of framing someone from a lower class for a crime and letting them be hung. Now in the Carlyon case, Perry goes further in depicting the place and lack of power of women in that ruling class. They may lead comfortable lives in material terms, but they and their children are the property of their fathers or husbands, and the women have no power or way of protecting themselves or their children -- if they leave their husbands, the courts will make sure the children remain with the father.
This book is long, and often quite dark, but it is absorbing and interesting. In addition to the Carlyon case and surrounding events, Monk spends time discovering more about his former life, even finding and talking with the woman he had loved before his accident. Rathbone and Hester spend more time together on the case, and Rathbone becomes fond of Hester. Monk and Hester again work together to accomplish their shared goal, but it is only under an unspoken truce -- they still dislike each other.
Although I read this book many years ago and remembered the bare bones of the plot quite well, I still very much enjoyed listening to the entire book again. Perry draws such interesting characters, and describes them so entertainingly, that I never got bored or impatient waiting for the climax I knew was coming. I think any reader interested in the culture and the society of mid-19th century England would enjoy Defend and Betray.
Davina Porter is one of my favorite narrators and she was the main positive. I listen to audio books on road trips and this one drew out far too long and the use of "aqualine" was too much in describing the people. I remember wondering if everyone looked alike other than hair color and height. Not a great book for a long drive because it makes the drive seem even longer with its length. It drags out.
Narrative makes the world go round.
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.
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.
The main characters took too long to figure out what was going on. I understand that children were "invisible" in this period of time, but still it seemed too long and drawn out as they finally tumbled to the problem. The courtroom scenes were excellent and it was very moving once the story got to go forward.
I would try another book from Anne Perry as she writes well. I just didn't like this one. And, it wasn't bad just uninspiringly blah.
Once again, Ms. Perry tackles modern societal issues in a Victorian setting. She vividly illustrates some of the deleterious effects inflicted on the victims. The first half of the book, I did suspect what was going on, but not the murderer.. by the middle, I’d figured it out.. but wanted to continue .. if nothing else than to see how Ms. Perry handled the issues.
There is a great triangle brewing between Monk, Hester and Oliver. I keep vacillating over which man I want to get the girl!
Ms. Porter again, is wonderful!
This book is not for those with blissfully innocent sensitivities.. but, is an excellent expose of some of societies most degrading practices.
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