Attorney Sir Oliver Rathbone has taken on a rather humdrum case. Hes defending architect Killian Melville in a breach-of-promise suit brought on by a broken engagement with Melvilles patron Lamberts daughter Zillah. Melville claims he didnt agree to the marriage.

Rathbone asks PI William Monk to investigate the Lamberts backgrounds. When Monk calls on his old friend Hester Latterly to get a feminine take on Melvilles behavior, Hester points him to a new case. The chambermaid at the house she works at as a private nurse is looking for her long-abandoned, physically deformed nieces.

His investigation exposes a side of 19th-century life that is as barbaric as the dark ages. Meanwhile, he continues the Melville/Lambert investigation, which reveals a secret so shocking that even the hardened Monk finds it hard to fathom.

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 heartwarmedits full of the rich emotions of human life. As bleak as the storyline may sound, not all is grimyoull close this book with a smile on your lips. This is such a spectacular series, its worth starting at the beginning. (Sep., 370 pp., $6.99)

Reviewed by: 
Toby Bromberg