Comments: 15
I so agree about Rathbone -- and the coincidences. And also with one of your earlier comments, that the Pitt books where Thomas is essentially doing all or most of the investigating are so much better than when they're acting together.

Of all of Perry's series, I find like the novella-length Christmas "derivatives" of the Pitt and Monk series best. Each of them can easily stand alone, because they generally feature supporting characters from the two "main" series and thus don't have to tie into the main series, they're somewhat less preachy than both of the main series (and to the extent any preaching is going on, it's mostly about the famous "Christmas spirit", which is kind of in synch with Victorian thinking and therefore doesn't bother me as much as when Perry tries to shoehorn 20th century sensibilities into the narrative). Also, compared to the main series, they're blessedly so much shorter ... :)
Sorry kids, no feet. 4 months ago
She does get a little anachronistic at times. This current Pitt novel for example was like reading about Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson years before it happened. I'm risking a bit by saying this out loud but it was nice to get away from the feminist preaching that has overwhelmed the last few Perry novels.
The only reason why Monk #4 is still on my TBR is because the audio is read by Terrence Hardiman (Abbot Radolphus in the "Brother Cadfael" TV adaptations -- I'm rather a fan of his audio narrations.) Otherwise, after the utterly ridiculous and wrong-on-all-levels attempt at a late-Victorian narrative featuring same-sex child abuse in book #3 (complete with frank and wholly unconcerned public court testimony by the abused child as the story's "crowning moment" ... excuse me???), I'd have thrown the towel. She really has to do a LOT better if I'm to continue with the Monk series AT ALL after the utter shambles that was book #3.
Sorry kids, no feet. 4 months ago
I would listen to four and then maybe stop. Five was basically a scene setter with a mystery thrown in for good measure. Six was fairly unbelievable when you take Perry's small world/Kevin Bacon complex into consideration.
OK, that's good to know -- thank you!
Darth Pedant 4 months ago
I forget which book I was reading when I lost interest in it, but I do remember thinking the series should be renamed "Hester Latterly Saves the Day" or "A series of Unbelievable Coincidences".
Sorry kids, no feet. 4 months ago
"Hester Latterly Saves the Day After Scolding Everyone Like Naughty Children" would be too much.
Darth Pedant 4 months ago
As would "Hester Latterly Saves the Day After Stepping Down From Her 'Our Victorian Medical Practices are Garbage and I Know Better Because I Once Worked with Florence Nightingale' Soapbox".

(Can you tell I wanted to like Hester but couldn't? LOL)
How 'bout "Coincidence dressed up as Hester Latterly's current client saves the day because Monk is too busy being mad at everybody (including himself) to do any investigating, and Hester is too busy trying to look in control and ahead of her time while fighting the urge to run around like a headless chicken"?
Sorry kids, no feet. 4 months ago
All of these things are true and I still love the courtroom scenes. They are better than tv.
Darth Pedant 4 months ago
Agreed. A++ courtroom scenes. I would expect nothing less given the author's personal experience in murder trials.
Sorry kids, no feet. 4 months ago
I only recently learned of Anne Perry's past. The fact that she managed to keep her real name and past a secret for so long.........well it really just means she started publishing books before the internet was a thing.
@Sknf: Agreed about the "started publishing before the advent of the internet" thing.

And yes, she is obviously making hay of her personal experience -- as well as, probably, the analysis of broadcast trials such as that of O.J. Simpson and, who knows, perhaps also Mortimer's "Rumpole" series (books and TV); the man did know what he was writing about, after all.. (Also, there are cross examination guides for young trial attorneys all over YouTube, plus of course oodles of instruction books, complete with anecdotes and all.)

Some of Perry's court scenes are reverse-anachronistic, though (i.e., this likely wouldn't have gone down quite the same way back in Victorian times as she's framing it based on her own 20th century experience). And based on my own experience with child abuse cases -- which isn't anywhere near that of Moonlight Reader, but they *did* feature in my day job once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away -- the whole concluding sequence of book #3 is ludicrously nonsensical, psychologically speaking. I have seen abused children as witnesses in court. I know just what amount of work (on the part of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counsel, friends and family, etc.) goes into getting them just to be able to trust again and function with a semblance of normality in daily life, even without having to face their abusers anymore. I know how incredibly gut-wrenching it is for them to finally face their abusers in court, *let alone* speak up about ther experience before strangers, such as in a court setting -- even if it is a NON-public trial (as child abuse cases are in Germany, for the protection of the victims; or at least the hearings at which the child victims are examined are not open to the public). I know about the abusers' "oh, you're so special to me trap" (which the child victims sense to be wrong from the start, however much some of them might initially want to buy into it, and which is precisely the thing that destroys them in the end). Perry may have drawn inferences from her own experience as a child witness (and, in fact, child accused) in a murder trial for the ending of book #3, but all issues of procedure and potential legal reverse-anachronism aside, trust me, psychologically that is *leagues* away from a severely and constantly abused child's experience (and testimony). // Ahem. Rant over.

And, umm, Rathbone still seriously rocks, of course. (But then, I just might be a bit biased.)

As for the fictional treatment of the child abuse issue, give me Elizabeth George's "A Great Deliverance" any time. It's a modern setting and it doesn't actually feature a trial, but she pretty much nails the psychology -- on *all* sides concerned, as a matter of fact.
Sorry kids, no feet. 4 months ago
@Themis - I really feel like you need a well-earned drink after all that. As far as rants go, it was quite the work of art.

My memory is so frazzled (Children. Youthful foolishness. Take a number.), I can only remember snippets of book 3. I just remember Rathbone constantly having me on the edge of my seat.
Hah. Yeah, well, there are issues and then there are issues ... :D (You might be right about the drink. :) )

Basically the premise is "woman is accused -- and perfectly willing to plead guilty -- for murdering her husband, a well-respected officer, formerly of the Colonial Indian Army. Everybody thinks this must all be a huge mistake and she's willing to take the blame for someone else. Hester is brought in by a member of the accused lady's family (younger sister or cousin IIRC, though I'm already getting woozy on the less important bits of the story), and she in turn ropes in Monk and Rathbone." For most of the book, Monk and Hester pretty much don't get anywhere at all, despite some pretty frantic activity. (Or, well, Monk has nightmares that eventually lead him to briefly reconnect with another lady he used to carry a torch for (of course, also a woman he fervently believed to be innocent), only to determine he really doesn't care for her that much anymore and she's better off where she is now, happily married to someone else.) Only in the book's final part -- and after much coincidence, deus-ex-machina business and assistance by Hester's client of the hour ...


... it turns out that the accused lady's husband is a serial abuser, not only of his own very young son but of (probably) countless young men who were under his command (and thus, entrusted to his care) in the Army. And what's worse, he had been groomed in turn by his own father, also a high-ranking officer, whose identical perversions ("such minor foibles, easily to be overlooked") were concealed from the world by his status-conscious wife (the murdered man's mother). Rathbone brings it all to a crashing tumble in the final court scenes, with the help of the murdered man's son, who cheerfully tells the assembled court (in a public hearing with the courtroom packed to the rafters) all about what's been going on, once he's brought to understand that nobody will be mad about him for revealing the "big secret" that he'd sworn Daddy not to ever talk about (because that's what's making the whole thing so very special after all -- seriously, his only significant qualms are about blurting out a sworn secret, not what Daddy had been doing to him to demonstrate his "very special love"). After which, much shouting and outrage in court at the perverts, much rejoicing at their instant arrest, and much sympathy for the poor mother who didn't know how else to protect her son other than killing her own husband (and who gets off with basically just a slap on her hands).


Seriously, my head was swiveling so fast I was going from nausea to whiplash and back in constant rotation. THAT ending -- in a Victorian court??? In a society that didn't even publicly recognize that there was such a thing as child abuse, and if it happened, was all too happy to protect the abusers, particularly if (like here) they held positions of high social status??? And THAT behavior (and testimony) on the part of the abused child???

I never wrote a review of the book, chiefly because I can't adequately discuss it without revealing the ultimate solution and certain events that only happen in the very last part -- quite apart from which, I basically just felt like washing out my mouth, reaching for the nearest supersized tin of brain bleach and moving on. Though, having now composed a second and even longer rant -- and thank you for bearing with me up to here if you did (if you didn't I seriously can't blame you) -- maybe I'll just copy and paste it all into a review form after all. Hmmm ....