A Breach of Promise (William Monk Series #9)

A Breach of Promise (William Monk Series #9)

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by Anne Perry

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In a sensational breach-of-promise suit, two wealthy social climbers are suing on behalf of their beautiful daughter, Zillah. The defendant is Zillah’s alleged fiancé, brilliant young architect Killian Melville, who adamantly declares that he will not,cannot, marry her. Utterly baffled by his client’s refusal, Melville’s counsel


In a sensational breach-of-promise suit, two wealthy social climbers are suing on behalf of their beautiful daughter, Zillah. The defendant is Zillah’s alleged fiancé, brilliant young architect Killian Melville, who adamantly declares that he will not,cannot, marry her. Utterly baffled by his client’s refusal, Melville’s counsel, Sir Oliver Rathbone, turns to his old comrades in crime—William Monk and nurse Hester Latterly. But even as they scout London for clues, the case suddenly and tragically ends, in an outcome that no one—except a ruthless murderer—could have foreseen.

Editorial Reviews

Romantic Times
Anne Perry simply cannot write a bad book, and A Breach of Promise is one of her very finest. The storyline is spellbinding, and Perry knows how to wring every drop of emotion out of the reader. This book leaves you devastated and shocked, but also surprisingly heartwarmed—it’s full of the rich emotions of human life.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this latest William Monk tale (after The Silent Cry, 1997), Perry offers her strongest indictment yet of Victorian England and a society "where beauty and reputation were the yardsticks of worth." Barrister Sir Oliver Rathbone defends Killian Melville, a talented young architect, in a breach of promise suit brought by Melville's benefactor, Barton Lambert, in support of Lambert's daughter Zillah. Melville insists that Mrs. Lambert, desperate that her daughter marry, misconstrued his friendship with the young woman. Meanwhile, Hester Latterly is hired to nurse Gabriel Athol, who was tragically injured in India and whose wife, Perdita, finds her desire to understand his suffering thwarted by a brother-in-law who insists that women be shielded from the realities of war and violence. Hester befriends Perdita's maid, Martha, who is desperate to find her two deaf, disfigured nieces who vanished years ago when her brother died and his wife disappeared. Rathbone hires Monk to investigate Melville and the Lamberts; Hester implores Monk to help Martha. The first case ends tragically before the startling truth behind Melville's refusal to marry is revealed; the second project ends on a happier note. Perry does a masterful job depicting Victorian hypocrisy regarding women. But she draws her stories together with an incredible connection whose dissonance spoils an otherwise exceptional novel. Mystery Guild main selection. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Perry's latest foray into the William Monk series is a biting, if somewhat heavy-handed, commentary on women's roles in Victorian England. In this installment, Sir Oliver Rathbone is approached by Killian Melville, a brilliant young architect who has reason to believe he will soon be sued for "breach of promise." Rathbone's initial reluctance to handle a domestic matter is soon overcome by Melville's vitality and intellect. It is a decision Rathbone may regret. Annoyed at himself and his client's reticence regarding a possible defense, Rathbone asks Monk to look into the pasts of both Melville and the woman he allegedly spurned. Terrence Hardiman's masterful narration grips the listener from the outset; the various personae he assumes are engaging and believable. Hardiman's renderings of the gruff-exteriored Monk and the pompously self-righteous duo Wystan Sacheverall and Athol Sheldon deserve particular praise. Highly recommended for popular collections.--Jennifer Belford, Addison P.L., IL Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
NY Times Book Review
Anne Perry can write a Victorian mystery that would make Dickens' eyes pop.
Marilyn Stasio
. . .[T]he story is full of feeling and weighted with intelligent thought about the status of women in mid-Victorian society.
The New York Times Book Review
Pam Lambert
Captivating historical conundrum.
People Weekly
Kirkus Reviews
Why would handsome, courteous, brilliant young architect Killian Melville—maneuvered (all unwitting, Melville insists to Sir Oliver Rathbone) into wedding plans by patron Barton Lambert's daughter Zillah and her pushy mother Delphine—refuse to marry the lady, a paragon of beauty and virtue, and her wealthy father's heiress? As Lambert family barrister Wystan Sacheverall calls witness after damning witness to the stand in the breach-of-promise suit the Lamberts have entered on behalf of their blushing daughter, Rathbone, convinced that his client is holding out on him and desperate to discover his secret, engages bulldog inquiry agent William Monk, abetted as usual by omnicompetent nurse Hester Latterly (, 1997, etc.), to investigate both the Lambert family and Killian Melville. Monk doesn't turn up anything likely to forestall the expected judgment against Melville, but then suddenly the case is rendered moot by a revelatory stroke of violence most savvy fans will have been waiting for impatiently. The aftermath may seem anticlimactic—especially since Perry has already entered her typically leisurely condemnations of a host of Victorian evils, from the siege of Cawnpore to the rights of women—but this time the surprises she's kept for last will knit the whole novel together more tightly than anything she's published in the past 10 years. A banquet for history buffs who live to see the Victorians chastised for acting like citizens of their age, or commended for having the rare good sense to advocate the views of our own.

From the Publisher
“Captivating . . . one of Perry’s most engrossing puzzlers.”—People

“Anne Perry, hailed as the queen of the Victorian mystery, shows why with A Breach of Promise.”—San Diego Union-Tribune
“No one weaves plot and subplots as seamlessly as Perry. . . . Fans will be delighted by the long-awaited romantic denouement, which brought tears to my eyes.”—Los Angeles Times
“The story is full of feeling and weighted with intelligent thought about the status of women in mid-Victorian society.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Scenes of Victorian England so rich in detail that they seem more a product of Perry’s memory than her prodigious research.”—The Denver Post

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
William Monk Series , #9
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Random House
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File size:
2 MB

What People are saying about this

Faye Kellerman
Anne Perry's Victorian England pulsates with life.

Meet the Author

Anne Perry is the bestselling author of two acclaimed series set in Victorian England: the William Monk novels, including Blind Justice and A Sunless Sea, the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels, including Death on Blackheath and Midnight at Marble Arch. She is also the author of a series of five World War I novels, as well as eleven holiday novels, most recently A New York Christmas, and a historical novel, The Sheen on the Silk, set in the Ottoman Empire. Anne Perry lives in Scotland and Los Angeles.

Brief Biography

Portmahomack, Ross-shire, U.K
Date of Birth:
October 28, 1938
Place of Birth:
Blackheath, London England

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A Breach of Promise: A William Monk Novel 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is an enjoyable read. However, it is not a murder mystery. It's a story about a legal battle between a young woman and a man that happens to contain a murder towards the end. The murder doesn't take place until the last quarter of the book. This book is well written. Despite my desire to read a murder mystery, I read the entire book. However, had I known that the murder wouldn't take place until the end, I would have skipped this book altogether. If you're looking for a nice general fictitious story, this is fine, but if you're looking for a murder mystery, look elsewhere.
TalulaJM More than 1 year ago
While I have been reading all of Anne Perry's books in order, this one threw me when part of the mystery was solved after only half of the book! I especially enjoyed trying to detect what was going on. As always, the descriptions of the times, the clothing, the social mores and issues of the times were so interesting. I love these characters, especially Sir Oliver. It was a wonderful escape!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wish they had an interview and denouncement if not proved.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book, as are all of Anne Perry's
Mackie77 More than 1 year ago
I thought I had read all of the William Monk books, but apparently I had not as I just recently found this book. Overall I enjoyed the book as Hester, Monk and Oliver played strong roles, and each focused on their area of expertise (Hester = nursing while providing knowledge and support to Monk, Monk = strong detective work, and Oliver = the law). I found a missing piece of the puzzle that has frustrated me all along while reading the William Monk series (sorry if I said any more it would be a spoiler). However, I'm disappointed in the ending as nothing was resolved!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A little long, but very good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really shows how far (or not) we've come since Victoria was on the throne. The courtroom scenes are compelling. Monk and Hester at their finest. I definitely will continue with this series and recommend they be read in sequence. Following the progression of the relationships adds a great deal to the stories. Part crime novel, part suspense, part romance, part historical fiction. All parts enjoyable. Could lead to interesting discussions of the Modern age compared to the Victorian age. Many things are different, but many more things are just the same.
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mckait More than 1 year ago
I did not expect to like this book as well as I did. I chose it for a bit offast read fun. It has also been a while since I took on anything Victorian. The book begins with a young man who was a gifted archetect, Killian Melville, seeks out Barrister Sir Oliver Rathbone, to defend him in court against the charge of Breach of Promise. The defense is that Killian has never actually asked for the hand of Zillah, a beautiful young lady, in marriage. That he knew that marriage plans were being made but thathe never thought it was his own wedding being discussed. Rathbone was at first disinclined to take the case. He simply thought Melville was a fool and a cad!Something though, convinced him. Something about the honesty of the way Melville presented himself convinced the Barrister to defend him. Thinking that the odds of winning this case were slim to none, Rathbone asks his long time friend and investigator William Monk to aide in the endeavor. But this is not the only story. Gabriel Lambert was wounded badly and in fact disfigured in the war in India. Hester Latterly, a friend of both the Barrister and the Investigator is a woman who served valiantly in the Crimea n War, has been asked to be a live in nurse and caregiver for Lambert. His young wife Perdita is distraught and frightened and has no skill in caring for someone with injuries, and needs such as her husband has brought home with him. This is a ripping good story, a mystery whose solution will have you leaping out of your comfy chair and shouting you cannot mean it! And the back story is of how women were thought to be nothing more than ornamental, and unable to learn or accomplish anything more than keeping a home and their men happy. I really liked this one. I will certainly read more in this series.
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Linda43 More than 1 year ago
Maybe as good as the previous one in the series, Cain and his Brother. Really good with a surprise twist.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is by far the best written, well rounded of all Anne Perry's Monk Novels. It moved quickly and has a wonderful surprise in the end. The final chapter plays out in a graveyard, but I found myself unable to stop smiling.