When the beautiful daughter of Sir Basil Moidore is stabbed to death in her bed, Inspector Monk and Nurse Latterly uncover a tale of shame and scandal that threatens to destroy a powerful London dynasty.
"As tension mounts in the household and a handsome and disliked footman becomes a scapegoat, Monk covertly arranges to introduce Hester Latterly, who served with Florence Nightingale in the Crimea and has helped Monk before, as a nurse in the Moidore home. Although a grave miscarriage of justice occurs and Monk is dismissed from the police force for a matter of conscience, the strong-willed pair persists in pressing the case to its chilling conclusion." (Publishers Weekly) "Anne Perry can write a Victorian mystery that would make Dickens's eyes pop." (New York Times Book Review) "A richly textured, masterfully plotted, thoroughly enjoyable read." (Kirkus Reviews)
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The second William Monk book deals primarily with the power of the wealthy and the aristocracy (the male members thereof) to hide all manner of scandalous situations, in order to avoid any hint of scandal to touch their families. Which often was accomplished through manipulation of information and the blaming of scapegoats among the servants or other members of the lower classes. In such men's eyes, the wellbeing, and even the lives of servants and similar creatures are easily sacrificed in order to keep their own and their families' reputations unsullied.
In "A Dangerous Mourning," a widowed daughter of Sir Basil Moidore is found stabbed in her own bed in her father's house. Monk is assigned to the case along with his assistant, Sergeant Evan. As the investigation proceeds, certain evidence is turned up pointing to a disliked footman in the household, but Monk feels that there is something wrong going on. In order to find out what that something is, he enlists Hester Latterly to help by becoming private nurse to Sir Basil's wife (mother of the murdered woman).
Because Monk is not convinced that the footman did it, and believes that there is insufficient evidence, he refuses a direct order from Runcorn, his boss in the police, and is fired/resigns from the force. Sergeant Evan is then forced to arrest the footman and the case is closed. Being forced to become a private investigator in order to make a living, Monk continues the investigation through Hester. No, this does not mean Monk and Hester have made up all their differences: they still argue as often as not and are continually offending each other. However, they do recognize a certain intelligence and integrity in each other, and a similar dedication to equity and justice.
As I read this second book, I became more aware of Perry's skill at describing people, both physically and in character. Really quite good!
In addition, it occurred to me that it is important to read these William Monk books in order. Not only do characters reappear from previous books, but references are made in one book to cases which occur in previous books. For instance, this book contains references to the Gray case, which was the case in the first Monk book. And book 3, which I am now reading, refers to matters arising both in the Gray case, and in the Moidore case (book 2). So, while the books can be enjoyed in any order, the greatest enjoyment comes in chronological order.
However you decide to read these booksk, you are sure to have a wonderful time!
- Nancy J "Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover"
A Dangerous Mourning
This is the first book in the William Monk series to which I have listened and I absolutely loved it. I intend to listen to as many of the series as I can. I enjoy Davina Porter's wonderful reading and accent which are perfect for this engaging Victorian novel. I am already involved with Nurse Latterly, Monk and the dashing lawyer, Oliver Rathbone and can't wait to meet them again.