Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Book Review 13: Funeral in Blue

Book Title: Funeral in Blue
Author: Anne Perry
Genre: Mystery
Number of Pages: 340
Personal Rating: 7/10
Reading Difficulty: Medium (3/5)

Book Summary:

Two beautiful women have been found strangled in the studio of a well- known London artist. To investigator William Monk and his wife, Hester, the murders are a nightmare. One of the victims is an obscure artist's model. The other is the wife of Hester's cherished colleague, distinguished surgeon Dr. Kristian Beck, a Viennese emigre who swiftly becomes the principal suspect.

With an intensity born of desperation, Hester, Monk and their dear friend, Callandra Daviot, who struggles to hide her deep love for Kristian, seek evidence that will save him from the hangman. From the city's sinister slums  to the crowded coffeehouses of Vienna, where embers of the revolution still burn in the hearts of freedom- loving men and women, they seek to penetrate not only the mystery of Elissa Beck's death, but the riddle of her life....

Personal Insights:

I would just like to make it clear that I have no affinity whatsoever to the mystery or detective genre. But I just might reconsider that thought if we were talking about a detective story set against a Victorian era backdrop. That is precisely the reason why I even entertained the thought of reading (and eventually liking) this book, Funeral in Blue.

The story basically starts with the discovery of the murders of two women in an artist's studio by means of violent strangulation. The protagonist, William Monk, is called on to investigate the gruesome murders by a close friend, Lady Callandra Daviot, who also happens to be in love with the Dr. Kristian Beck, the husband of one of the murdered women.

Obviously, the story would not be very mindboggling if the murderer was so easy to find out. The author identifies the prime suspects early on in the plot as Kristian Beck, the husband as well as Allardyce Argo, the artist. But to complicate matters, Anne Perry provides these two with good alibis and eventually destroys it, thus, leaving the readers with this line of thought, "He REALLY has a motive so is it really possible that he was the one who committed the atrocious crime?" I think this is the tricky part in all detective novels; making the readers second guess again and again. Anne Perry has absolutely mastered this craft! When I'm ready to believe that a certain character is really the killer, she presents another point of view that eliminates that person from the list of suspects! 

Generally, I LIKED this book and here are some of the reasons: First, the names of the characters, especially Callandra Daviot and Allargo Allardyce, are so lovely! This is a petty reason, I know-- but you have to admit, it does make the  story better because it adds a little bit of authenticity to the plot by using such old Victorian names! Second, the portrayal of the historic setting and the attention given to other banal stuff such as their daily means of transportation or even their clothes and houses back then was extraordinary! It was such a joy to read these things because it literally feeds your imagination and in a sense, it helps you grasp that forgotten milieu in a much better way. Third, I love the effort that Anne Perry exerted in creating the life stories of the characters like Sarah Mackenson's and how it contrasts with the life of Elisa Becks; she's good at providing the readers with the conflicting natures of the characters, which makes the plot much more rich and exciting. Fourth, the insights and 'quotable quotes' from this book are simple exceptional! Just take a peek below... It offers good points of reflection and somehow, it also gives off some philosophical undertones. Lastly and most importantly, I love the complicated plot and transposition of old events with the new ones; But, I guess this would work better if the reader would've started with the first book of this series (yes, it's a part of a series though I was not able to start with the first one since I only chanced upon this book in the library).

Despite these good points of this book, I DID find some needless and confusing stuff. For instance, the part where Kristian Beck's REAL identity was revealed and how Anne Perry was not able to really explain its implications... I mean, why is it important to note why Elissa hated Hannah and how is that related to why she was murdered? I just think that this is not important to the plot and the story would still be complete without this excerpt. The ending was also kind of abrupt. I mean, a lot of pages were spent on building and building the point of conflict for this book then the resolution and ending were packed within the last three or two chapters; it gives the impression that the writer just lost the desire or interest to make it as descriptive as it was in the previous parts of the story. Other than these drawbacks, it IS a good book to read. See, I was even inspired to draw the characters! 

I LIKE this book enough to recommend it to other people especially if you are a fan of historical plots and the mystery genre! All in all, I'm looking forward to reading more of Anne Perry's books especially the William Monks series because it proved to be really interesting!

Favorite Excerpts:

What is time anyway, except what we put in it? It's like space. Who can measure nothingness? Alargo Allardyce

Love was surely for honor and gentleness, laughter and wisdom and a hundred thoughts shared. But infatuation was for what the heart thought it was, for what the vision believed. 

In her own eyes, her sole value was an object of beauty for as long as it lasted. Both time and fashion were already eroding it, and she felt the cold breath of rejection.

If your love remains, you don't place your own needs before theirs. You might with moral duties, but not with appetite. But if something takes away your ability to sacrifice your own wants for the sake of someone else, then it has robbed you of honor and love. They aren't just nice  warm feelings, they are a willingness to act for someone else's good before your own. -- Hester Monk

Rejection can make people behave irrationally, but remorse after the act does not undo the act, nor bring back that which has been destroyed. -- Callandra Daviot

Being self- controlled is not the same thing as not having emotions. -- Hester Monk

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