Thursday, April 23, 2015

Anne Perry

I am new to Anne Perry's novels, though she is long from new to the writing world. Her list of books is lengthy and she's a NYT Bestseller.

However, she is not my cup of tea.

First, let me state that as a general rule I like murder mystery books. Not the grisly or foul language covered ones, but a good simple mystery with some conspiracy or political intrigue thrown in is just fine. I grew up on Nancy Drew and The Cat Who books.

Second, let me state what Ms. Perry does well. She is excellent at setting, both the place and time period. Her use of accents is well done while still allowing the reader to understand what is being said by the character. Each character, large and small, receives a healthy description that is both physical and emotionally telling. Her history is well researched. She states the problem/murder up front.

But I found both Death on Blackheath and Blood on the Water tedious.

Third. What didn't work for me: everything between the first 10-20 pages and the last 10 -20 pages, which is the bulk of the book. It took forever to get to solving the murder and with little excitement on the way to the resolution i.e. finding out whodunit. I had difficulty getting into the characters, not because they weren't well fleshed out, but because they didn't come alive for me. I didn't feel what they felt, so I didn't care the way I'd have liked. Some of the detecting methods didn't make sense. There were times when characters would trail off expecting me to know what they were thinking, and of course, I didn't. I can only be in my own mind, not someone else's. Whatever the information attempting to be conveyed through omission didn't come through. If I, as the reader need to know something about the character or an important plot point, then just say it.

Now, I will say that as I haven't read any of the previous books in either of these series, perhaps I am missing vital information about the main characters that would have solved some of my issues with reading the books. I did feel that you could read these as stand alone novels and be content. She does refer to histories that happened previously in the series but as plot points don't hinge on them you won't be lost.

Will I read Ms. Perry again? No. There are other writers I prefer for mysteries.

But you can decide for yourself.

Anne Perry’s superb New York Times bestselling novels set in the glorious reign of Victoria are loved by readers far and wide. Now, with this new Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mystery, Perry returns us to that charmed era, when wealth and power rule—but where, alas, poisonous corruption lies coiled in the heart of the empire.
As commander of the powerful Special Branch, Thomas Pitt has the job of keeping Britain safe from spies and traitors. So there’s no obvious reason why he is suddenly ordered to investigate two minor incidents: the blood, hair, and shards of glass discovered outside the home of naval weapons expert Dudley Kynaston, and the simultaneous disappearance of Mrs. Kynaston’s beautiful lady’s maid.
But weeks later, when the mutilated body of an unidentified young woman is found near Kynaston’s home, Pitt realizes that this is no ordinary police investigation. Far from it. Is Kynaston—one of Britain’s most valuable scientists—leading a double life? Is Pitt saddled with a conspiracy so devilishly clever that it will ruin him?
A baffled Pitt has never needed his friends more desperately, including his indomitable wife, Charlotte; his canny old colleague Victor Narraway; and his personal drawing-room spy, Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould. But even these allies may not be able to save Pitt—or Britain.    
Only Anne Perry could have created the tense unfolding of plot and counterplot, love and betrayal, scandal and murder that follows. Death on Blackheath is rich with fascinating characters, authentic period flavor, knife’s-edge suspense, and a haunting, unforgettable denouement.

As her New York Times bestselling novels always remind us, Anne Perry is a matchless guide to both the splendor and the shame of the British Empire at the height of its influence. In her twentieth William Monk mystery, she brings us to London’s grand Mayfair mansions, where the arrogant masters of the Western world hold sway—and to the teeming Thames waterfront, where one summer afternoon, Monk witnesses the horrifying explosion of the pleasure boat Princess Mary, which sends to their deaths nearly two hundred merrymakers.
The tragedy is no accident. As commander of the River Police, Monk should handle the case, but the investigation is turned over to the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. An Egyptian man is swiftly caught, tried, and sentenced to die. But almost as quickly, Monk presents evidence that Habib Beshara, though a nasty piece of work, was elsewhere at the time of the blast. The investigation, now in complete disarray, is hastily turned over to Monk.
Is the crime connected with the soon-to-be-opened Suez Canal, which will enormously benefit wealthy British shipping companies? Or did all of those innocent people drown to ensure the death of just one? How did the bomber board the ship, and how did he manage to escape? Is he an anarchist or a madman?
Backed up by his astute wife, Hester, and his old reliable friend Oliver Rathbone, Monk vows to find answers—but instead finds himself treading the dangerous waters of international intrigue, his questions politely turned aside by a formidable array of the powerful and privileged. Events twist and turn like the Thames itself, leading to the shattering moment when Monk realizes, perhaps too late, that he is the next target.

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