Slaves of Obsession
moves from Victorian England
to the United States
on the brink of the Civil War
, evoking not only the nuances of the English class system but also the fierce passions and partisan loyalties that ignited the bloodiest conflagration in American history. When Daniel Alberton, a well-born arms merchant, asks private enquiry agent William Monk to investigate an extortion attempt, the former policeman is thrust into a conflict between competing Americans, Lyman Breeland and Philo Trace, who have come to London to purchase guns for the Union and Confederacy forces respectively. Bound by honor to complete the sale of a trove of weapons he has promised to Trace, Alberton refuses Breeland's plea to change his mind. Breeland is championed by Merrit, Alberton's 16-year-old daughter, who makes an impassioned argument for the anti-slavery position. Then Alberton is brutally murdered and the arms shipment stolen, and Merrit elopes with Breeland. Monk and his wife Hester are dispatched to America to retrieve the young woman and bring her seducer back to England to face a murder trial. Hester, who was a nurse in the Crimea, comports herself admirably on the battlefield at Manassas while Monk searches for Breeland and arrests him amidst the carnage. But once back in England, Monk's investigative efforts cast doubt on Breeland's guilt and point to a killer closer to home. Hester Monk emerges as a fascinating character in her own right. Her relationship with the enigmatic William, whose fragmented recollections (of who and what he was before the accident that erased most of his memory) still haunt him, is thoughtfully evoked. As usual, Perry handles the secondary characters with brio. Breeland, in particular, becomes in the author's capable hands a man whose obsessive devotion to the Union cause underscores his inability to return Merrit's love. As Hester tells the infatuated young woman, "To see the mass and lose the individual is not nobility. You are confusing emotional cowardice with honour.... To follow your duty when the cost in friendship is high, or even the cost in love, is a greater vision, of course. But to retreat from personal involvement, from gentleness and the giving of yourself, and choose instead the heroics of a general cause, no matter how fine, is cowardice." This sixth entry in the Monk series evokes the era in which it is set with a fine eye for details of dress, manners, décor, and culture, while skillfully unfolding the emotional and intellectual depths of both William and Hester, whose well-honed intelligence makes it clear that she, too, deserves a series of her own. --Jane Adams
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From Publishers Weekly
At the start of Perry's latest Victorian page-turner (after The Twisted Root), London-based private detective William Monk agrees to attend a dinner party at the lush home of arms dealer Daniel Alberton only for the sake of his wife, Hester. Hester, who served as a nurse with Florence Nightingale in the Crimea, is as gregarious as her husband is reserved. At the party, the Monks meet a volatile cast of characters, including Daniel's wife, Judith, a half-Italian beauty devoted to her husband and their 16-year-old daughter, Merrit. Daniel clearly adores Judith, as does her cousin, Casbolt, her husband's dapper partner in the arms business. Merrit, however, is blinded by passion for Lyman Breeland, a tall, thirtyish American who has come to England to buy guns for the Union Army. When Breeland's handsome Confederate counterpart, Philo Trace, appears unexpectedly at the end of dinner, Daniel admits that he's selling guns to Trace rather than Breeland because Trace asked first. Later, after Daniel turns up dead and Merrit runs off to America with Breeland, Monk and Hester follow, landing with Trace in the thick of the first battle of Bull Run. Monk brings Breeland back to London to stand trial for Daniel's murder, only to have doubts before the ship docks. Rich in period detail and ripe with an understanding of the agony of unrequited love, Perry's heated tale is marred by a subplot involving blackmail and pirates that never pays off. In addition, patches of overwriting will flag the villain to astute readers. 10-city author tour. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.