In her haunting new Victorian novel, Anne Perry brings to rich and passionate life the city that she has made her own. Once more she shares the intimacy of London's opulent drawing rooms and guides readers through gaslit thoroughfares that echo with hooves on cobblestones, the cries of street vendors, the shouts of newsboys reporting the headlines . . . of two beautiful women found strangled in the studio of a well-known London artist. One of the victims is the wife of Hester Monk's colleague, surgeon Dr. Kristian Beck, a Viennese emigre who swiftly becomes the principal suspect. Now investigator William Monk and his wife seek evidence to save Beck from the hangman, hoping to penetrate not only the mystery of Elissa Beck's death, but the riddle of her life. . . .
The uncut audio version of Perry's latest book about the enigmatic, rough-edged private detective William Monk and his wife, Hester the no-nonsense nurse who learned her trade with Florence Nightingale in Crimea is a veritable time machine. Aided by Colacci's cool but carefully calibrated reading, which cleverly cranks up the excitement when necessary, Perry's tale transports readers to Victorian London along with a splendid side trip to Vienna, as the Monks try to clear a doctor friend of two murder charges. Along the way, Perry gets to show off again her seamless talent for illustrating the era's social evils this time addictive gambling and barely hidden anti-Semitism without making her obviously prodigious research seem lumpy or excessive. There's more about period medical practices here than some listeners might have the stomach for, as Hester and Dr. Kristian Beck (the man accused of killing his wife and an artist's model) perform some very bloody surgery, but it certainly roots the story in reality. So do Perry's writing and Colacci's sly reading about women's fashions and what they had to say about the social roles of the people forced to wear them. This is a perfect example of an audiobook that deftly captures a book's spirit. Simultaneous release with the Ballantine hardcover. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 26, 2002
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Excerpt from Funeral in Blue by Anne Perry
The operating room was silent except for the deep, regular breathing of the gaunt young woman who lay on the table, the immense bulge of her stomach laid bare.
Hester stared across at Kristian Beck. It was the first operation of the day, and there was no blood on his white shirt yet. The chloroform sponge had done its miraculous work and was set aside. Kristian picked up the scalpel and touched the point to the young woman ' s flesh. She did not flinch; her eyelids did not move. He pressed deeper, and a thin, red line appeared.
Hester looked up and met his eyes, dark, luminous with intelligence. They both knew the risk, even with anesthesia, that they could do little to help. A growth this size was probably fatal, but without surgery the woman would die anyway.
Kristian lowered his eyes and continued cutting. The blood spread. Hester swabbed it up. The woman lay motionless except for her breathing, her face waxen pale, cheeks sunken, shadows around the sockets of her eyes. Her wrists were so thin the shape of the bones poked through the skin. It was Hester who had walked beside her from the ward along the corridor, half supporting her weight, trying to ease the anxiety which had seemed to torment her every time she had been to the hospital over the last two months. Her pain seemed as much in her mind as in her body.
Kristian had insisted on surgery, against the wishes of Fermin Thorpe, the chairman of the Hospital Governors. Thorpe was a cautious man who enjoyed authority, but he had no courage to step outside the known order of things he could defend if anyone in power were to question him. He loved rules; they were safe. If you followed the rules you could justify anything.
Kristian was from Bohemia, and in Thorpe ' s mind he did not belong in the Hampstead Hospital in London with his imaginative ways and his foreign accent, however slight, and his disregard for the way things should be done. He should not risk the hospital ' s reputation by performing an operation whose chances of success were so slight. But Kristian had an answer, an argument, for everything. And, of course, Lady Callandra Daviot had taken his side; she always did.
Kristian smiled at the memory, not looking up at Hester but down at his hands as they explored the wound he had made, looking for the thing that had caused the obstruction, the wasting, the nausea and the huge swelling.
Hester mopped away more blood and glanced at the woman ' s face. It was still perfectly calm. Hester would have given anything she could think of to have had chloroform on the battlefield in the Crimea five years ago, or even at Manassas, in America, three months back.