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A Sudden, Fearful Death Mass Market Paperback – August 29, 1994

4.3 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews
Book 4 of 21 in the William Monk Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this excellent historical mystery, Victorian detective William Monk investigates the suspicious death of a young English nurse.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA-Another Perry mystery that highlights the frustrating status of women in Victorian England. The story hinges on society's low opinion of nurses and of both single and married women who seek abortions. A talented nurse is found strangled, and Inspector Monk and his friends, a nurse and a lawyer, follow the clues to see that the murderer will hang. It is difficult to decide which element is the author's true forte-the details of everyday life or the suspenseful courtroom dialogues. The plot has many twists and turns. Readers may suspect some of the answers, but surprises continue right until the last page. The opening chapters place readers in a subplot that provides background on different characters. The shift in the action is slightly confusing as these people are rarely mentioned again. However, Perry fans will not be disappointed, and newcomers will be entertained by a good mystery as they enter the world of Victorian high society.
Claudia Moore, W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Ivy Books; 4th edition (August 29, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804112835
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804112833
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,082,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
A Sudden, Fearful Death is the fourth mystery in the Inspector Monk series of books by Anne Perry. Better known for her Pitt series, the Inspector Monk series are slighly earlier (just after the Crimean War), grittier, and in many ways more riveting. They are longer than the average Pitt novel, and this allows the author's wonderful ability to convey period detail and characterization to shine through.
In this mystery Inspector Monk is called in to investigate the murder of one of Florence Nightingale's Crimean nurses, who is working at a London hospital. Those of you who have read the previous three novels know how hard it can be for these young women to adapt to English hospitals after their stint abroad, and at first it seems that Prudence Barrymore might be a victim because of her desire to reform the medical system. As the plot unfolds, however, we realize that there is a great deal more going on at London's Royal Free hospital than meets the eye.
One of Perry's greatest talents lies in character development, and she is always careful to let a different character feature prominently in each novel. This time it is Lady Callandra Daviot's turn, Inspector Monk's female patron, who emerges as a more three-dimensional character. Hester Latterly, another Nightingale nurse, is also featured, along with the brilliant Inspector Monk and the lawyer of lawyers, Oliver Rathbone.
I would particularly recommend the Monk series to fans of TV's Law and Order, since these mysteries combine excellent sleuthing with taut court-room drama. If you like historical mysteries, you will love this series. If you already like Anne Perry, I encourage you to give Inpsector Monk a try!
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For whatever reason, this story seemed disjointed. The first big scene took forever to tie in with the rest of the plot and I'm still not sure it was necessary. The big reveal did not necessarily need Julia and her sister Marianne.

The courtroom scenes are tedious and overly drawn out. I suspect Perry wrote it this way simply to give Rathbone something to do. Unfortunately, it only served to make him less likeable since he is constantly disparaging Prudence's memory and character. Why isn't Hester testifying? She witnessed Prudence performing successful amputations and could refute some of the claims. A huge oversight by the prosecution and Monk. It was very difficult and upsetting to read pages and pages of people tearing Prudence's memory and accomplishments to shreds, simply because no one has sufficient imagination to guess at the real meaning of her letters (which I did almost immediately) until Hester manages near the end of the trial. This alone brings the rating down 1 star. How annoying that everyone assumed a sordid reason behind the letters, especially since it was so out of character for Prudence. Since I guessed the reason right away, I find it hard to believe none of the other characters did. How absurd. Not to mention, it's getting really annoying the way Monk continually ruminates on how brilliant he is. Give it a rest already!

I have to say, I really like the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series better. There is a lot of potential for the Monk books, but I think the time period makes it difficult to enjoy. While women are still relegated to a background role during Pitt's era, at least whispers of change are in the air. During the Monk books, the female characters are so restricted at times, it's difficult to enjoy the read. That said, the parts with Hester are always my favorite. Poor thing is so ahead of her time.
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I like the William Monk Novels and this one was excellent. The interaction between Monk and Hester can be outrageously funny to me. Anne Perry has the ability to bring characters alive like only the best authors can. So far her books make me really wonder who "done it". Or if I have an idea who did, she is still able to keep me wondering. And I can find my self so wrong by the end of the book.
She also has been able to show different sides of Victorian London, the various types of people who live there.
To me this book is a very good example of a murder mystery, filled with intrigue, a cantankerous detective and nurse, a brilliant barrister, and more than one evil character.
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I am a 'new' fan of the Inspector Monk series and am reading the books in order.
Cannot say enough good things about this series is progressing for me. I have
talked to other fan and they tell me the best is yet to come.
A side benefit is my reading other materials related to the history of that time.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Monk and Hester investigate when a nurse is strangled at the local hospital.

A boring read. The book rambles in places while in others fairly gallops to the next part. Perry has developed a knack for overstatement and also for writing some very clunky prose which continually slows down the characters. The murder mystery is also a mess. Hester conveniently forgets a conversation which throws a different light on the investigation and pursues a line which she must know is untrue but this discrepancy is never explained. Perhaps Perry herself forgot she'd written that section or hoped the reader wouldn't notice.

I felt slightly insulted by this book. There's a hastiness to the whole thing, a good edit would have helped. Perry has nothing new to say about either her characters or the situations they find themselves in.
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