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Slaves of Obsession: A William Monk Novel (William Monk Novels) Paperback


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Product Details

  • Series: William Monk Novels
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (June 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345514122
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345514127
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Anne Perry is the bestselling author of two acclaimed series set in Victorian England: the William Monk novels, including Dark Assassin and The Shifting Tide, and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels, including The Cater Street Hangman, Calandar Square, Buckingham Palace Gardens and Long Spoon Lane. She is also the author of the World War I novels No Graves As Yet, Shoulder the Sky, Angels in the Gloom, At Some Disputed Barricade, and We Shall Not Sleep, as well as six holiday novels, most recently A Christmas Grace. Anne Perry lives in Scotland.

Customer Reviews

Ms. Perry's characters are still good, and very well drawn.
S. Schwartz
All of Anne Perry's books with William Monk and Hester, and her other series featuring Thomas and Charlotte Pitt are absolute fantastic books to read.
Book Crazy
It's an interesting scene, but really just fills pages and does not move the narrative forward.
J. Carroll

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on October 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
While England remains at peace, across the Atlantic, the first major battle of the Civil War occurs. Agents from the opposing forces try to buy arms from Daniel Alberton. When William and Hester Monk meet Daniel, his wife Judith, and their daughter Merrit, Lyman Breeland demands the arms merchant sell to the Union while Philo Trace wants the weapons to go to the Confederacy.

Alberton does not favor one side over the other, but will honor the deal he made with Trace. Merrit loves Lyman, who she sees as a hero. Not long afterward, Alberton and two of his men die and the guns and ammo are missing. Merrit and the Union soldier travel to America with evidence showing that she and her suitor committed the crimes. Judith Alberton asks the Monks to find her daughter and return her to England. As the Monks work on the case, they begin to wonder who are the victims and who are the criminals?

Anne Perry always writes a memorable Victorian mystery that leaves her myriad of fans shouting masterpiece. The glimpse of the American Civil War from the British side is as enlightening as much as observing the English justice system at work. SLAVES OF OBSESSION is constructed in such a way so as to the make the mystery seem obvious until the protagonists begin to dig for the truth. The novel turns into a personal coup for the author showing yet again the degree of talent and confidence Ms. Perry has.
Harriet Klausner
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A. Wolverton VINE VOICE on February 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Anne Perry's "Slaves of Obsession" starts out with a great premise: A British businessman is faced with the choice of selling arms to two men, one a member of the Union forces during the American Civil War, and the other a man with loyalties to the Confederacy. When the businessman is murdered, the Northerner flees to America with the guns...and the businessman's daughter. But did he kill the businessman? Monk and Hester are up to the task of sorting the whole thing out...or are they?
I found the first third of the book to be very exciting, especially the scenes that occur in America. Monk, for the first time, now becomes graphically aware of what Hester has seen and experienced as he watches the brutal battles of the Civil War. (Monk also learns more about his forgotten past in this volume.) As Monk and Hester search for answers in America, they learn a lot about themselves.
Sadly, after Monk and Hester arrive back to England, the book really drags down. Perry just keeps hammering the same clues over and over again until the reader finally doesn't care who is exposed as the murderer (although it's fairly easy to figure out). Monk's wit and intellect are usually sharp as a tack, but he really seems slow-witted in figuring out what's going on in this story. After her return from America, Hester might as well change the sheets on beds in hospital rooms...she has very little to do with the remainder of the story. The courtroom scenes in this story are the least inspired of all the Monk stories thus far. "Slaves of Obsession" feels like a book that was well thought out for about the first half of the story. After that, it feels like the ending was thrown together in time to meet a deadline. Considering how very good the three previous Monk books were, "Slaves of Obsession" comes as a major disappointment.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best William Monk/Hester Monk mysteries yet. I was, I confess, disappointed with "The Twisted Root". I had so looked forward to seeing the relationship between Hester and William after they (finally) married. This is the book that Perry should have written just after "Breach of Promise". And I'm glad to see Oliver Rathbone back again. I'm also glad that Perry doesn't have him simply recover from Hester's marriage to another man, but has him deal with the pain.
Perry is extremely good at making her characters human. In these books, the "good guys" and the "bad guys" are not so easy to tell apart. In this story, the man who fights for the right cause is a pompous, vain jerk whom very few can sympathize with, while the man on the wrong side is a very likable person. I won't say any more, lest I spoil the book, but I highly recommend it for fans of this series.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Billy J. Hobbs VINE VOICE on November 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Anne Perry--certainly the "queen of Victoriana"--thrusts her inimitable duo, William and Hester Monk--right in the middle of the American Civil War (it's 1861) in "Slaves of Obsession. And with her usual writing abilities, Perry treats her readers to another exciting episode in this series.
Extortion is the subject here, as Monk, former policeman and now working privately, is hired to track down a killer who has fled to America, and, combined with murder early on, this investigation begins to have so many aspects that it cannot be called "simple." Perry is good at this, however, and never seems to lose track of her goal. She is also good at incorporating history into her police procedurals and pulls no punches as she addresses the slavery issue, arms shipments, and medical practices of the time (Remember, Hester was a nurse during the British Crimean War and now renders aid on the Manassas battlefield!).
Perry, using her standard powers of description and episode, readily shows the carnage, the butchery of the battlefield in readily graphic depictions. Her descriptions, as usual, are not for the faint at heart. By the book's end, of course, Monk has sorted out the convoluted paths to justice and sensibility. American readers may praise "Slaves of Obsession" as one of her best, owing to the locale; regardless, this book shows a maturity that perhaps was there in, say, "Cater Street Hangman." ...
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