Although esteemed General Thaddeus Carlyon meets his death in a freak accident at home, his beautiful wife, Alexandra, confesses that she killed him. Monk, with the help of Hester and the brilliant counsel for the defence, Oliver Rathbone, work feverishly to break down the wall of silence raised by the accused and her husband’s proud family, culminating in a dramatic court room scene....
I've really enjoyed the books I read by Anne Perry and I can't wait to continue reading this series. The fact that there are so many books out only makes me more enthusiastic.
Although the summary above mentions Monk as the main detective in this case the truth is that Hester Latterly does most of the investigation. She has been employed to nurse a military man who has broken his leg and, when she story opens, she is waiting to meet her friend Edith Sobell. Edith is General Carlyon's sister and she asks Hester's hell in finding a good lawyer for her sister-in-law Alexandra after she confesses to killing her husband. Hester finds Rathbone who, in turn, hires Monk to find out what really happened.
Although at first the characters entertain the idea that Alexandra may have confessed to protect the real killer, it is soon apparent that she is the only one with opportunity to do it. So the investigation ends up not being about whom but about the why as no one believes the reason Alexandra gives.
While Monk is the one hired to discover the truth he keeps getting distracted with memories from his past. Visiting Alexandra Carlyon in prison makes him remember another woman in the same circumstances. A woman he can't remember the name but that he knows he cared about deeply. So the main investigation gets a bit side tracked while he goes off to discover who the woman is. I can't help but enjoying the way Perry makes Monk discover his past, he keeps discovering he may not have been a very good person and feels ashamed and embarrassed by it. We are yet to find out what turned him into someone different.
So, it is Hester, due to her ties with the Carlyons who ends up discovering the secrets that are the key to Alexandra's behaviour. I really enjoyed the whole investigative details, how we are given clues throughout the book that make sense in the end, but I especially liked the scenes in the courtroom. Rathbone is a very good lawyer and Perry is excellent at describing these scenes, it felt we were with Hester and Monk sitting right there and watching the jury reach their conclusions.
As usual I think she does a really good job with the atmosphere of the period and inserting details of social, military and economic history. She really brings the period to life. She teases us a bit with a romance between Rathbone and Hester but then, right at the end, it seems it is Monk that is looking at Hester with new eyes. Looking forward to see that development.
Crossposted at Historical Tapestry