Official Synopsis from Goodreads:
When Countess Zorah Rostova asks London barrister Sir Oliver Rathbone to defend her against a charge of slander, he is astonished to find himself accepting. For, without a shred of evidence, the countess insists that the prince of her small German principality was murdered by his wife, the woman who was responsible for his exile twenty years before. Though private investigator William Monk and his friend Hester Latterly, manage to establish that the prince was indeed murdered, as events unfold the likeliest suspect seems to be Countess Zorah herself. . . .
Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: Victorian London
My copy came from: I got a used paperback from PaperBackSwap
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Review: A slow start with a riveting ending! Weighed in the Balance by Anne Perry is the seventh book in the William Monk mystery series set in Victorian London. William Monk is a private investigator, and he’s friends with nurse Hester Latterly and barrister Sir Oliver Rathbone. Monk isn’t really the focus of this mystery, as we are mainly focused here on how Rathbone will handle the slander case that arrives on his doorstep. A visiting countess, the Countess Zorah Rostova accuses another woman, Princess Gisela of Felzburg, of murdering her (the princesses) husband, Prince Friedrich. Zorah doesn’t offer anything in the way of proof, and so Rathbone sends Monk out to the “scene of the crime” in order to investigate if there was murder and what exactly happened.
As Rathbone and Monk are occupied with Zorah’s case, Hester finds herself nursing a young man who has been paralyzed from an illness. The young man and his family are originally from Felzburg, where the Countess and Princess are from, so Hester gathers lots of information from the family she’s working for to help with Rathbone’s case.
“You have a very keen interest in politics, Miss Latterly.”
“In people, Baron Ollenheim. And I have seen enough of war to dread it anywhere, for any country.”
“Do you not think there are some things worth fighting for, even if it means dying?” he said slowly.
“Yes. But it is one thing to judge the prize worth someone else’s life, and another judging it worth your own.”
There was so much buildup in this book. Way too much buildup. The beginning was far too boring, with basically a rundown of all the necessary characters, and how they connected with each other, and which political affiliations they had. One of the main focuses of the murder investigation deals with the unification of Germany, as Felzburg is in the process of deciding if they want to go to war over their independence, or if they want to be part of the unification. There is also a short side trip to Venice, which is under Austrian rule at this time, and there are some similar sentiments there, too, as the Italian unification gains traction. I found these political dealings and discussions quite fascinating, and the historical details like this are just one of the reasons I love Anne Perry’s mysteries and why I refused to set this book aside, even though it really took a long time for everything to start clicking.
Luckily, with all of this buildup, there was a great payoff. I love a great courtroom scene, and the second half of the book is pretty much all set in the courtroom, as Rathbone tries to work the case and solve the mystery. If I recall the other books correctly, this one felt like it was the most “legal focused” of the series so far, as Rathbone felt like the main character here, and Monk felt like an afterthought. Which was fine. Monk in this entry is romancing a married woman, and while this relationship I think sparked a change in Monk, I still didn’t want to read about it. Here’s hoping that we get more Monk and Hester in the next entry!
Bottom Line: Takes a while to get going but it’s historically fascinating and has some great courtroom scenes.
LINKS ***the Amazon link is an affiliate link which means I receive a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase***
My Review of The Sins of the Wolf (William Monk #5)
My Review of Cain His Brother (William Monk #6)
7 thoughts on “Book Review: Weighed in the Balance by Anne Perry (William Monk #7)”
I think I want my book one way or the other but not both. It needs to be the build up to the court scene, or mostly the court scene. Take a movie like My Cousin Vinny. Some time is spent with witnesses, but the majority of it is Vinny thinking about the case or in the court room discussing the cast. If we got loads of pre-trial stuff with too many details and names (especially when you have royalty who have political affiliations and titles to remember), then I lose interest and feel like I’m reading two books. It would be smart, in my opinion, for crime writers to write a duology–two books–one on pre-trial and gathering evidence, the other one about the trial.
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How are you doing with the cold weather?? I hope you are staying warm!!
I like your idea of splitting it into two books – one focusing on all the pre-trial stuff and then the second book focusing on the trial. That way both sections could be given equal time rather than feeling lopsided (like so many court focused books feel).
I’ve actually never seen My Cousin Vinny!! It’s one of those movies that I always say “oh yeah I still need to watch that” and yet still haven’t gotten around to it!
It’s a hilarious film. NYC Italian goes to the deep south to defend his cousin from murder charges.
As for the cold, lots of things are closed around here, but my theatre is opening a show tomorrow, so we’ve still been working 😬
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Oh wow – Still working and having to go out and about in that weather! How awful. Everything they are showing on the news here makes it seem as if everything is totally shut down.
Well….lol, they’re not wrong. My boss believes that if you run from your house to your car to our theater that you will be fine. The problem is so many cars are having issues starting and tires are going flat, so who’s to say a car wouldn’t break down en route?
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Yikes. That’s a scary thought!