Synopses & Reviews
In her new masterpiece featuring private inquiry agent William Monk, New York Times bestselling novelist Anne Perry displays her prodigious writing talent. With insight, compassion, and a portraitist's genius, Perry illuminates the shifting tide of emotions encompassing Queen Victoria's London and the people who live there aristocrats, brothel owners, thieves, Dickensian ruffians, and their evil keepers. She takes us through dangerous backstreets where the poor eke out their humble livings, and into the mansions of the rich, safe and secure in their privileged lives. Or so they believe.
William Monk knows London's streets like the back of his hand; after all, they are where he earns his living. But the river Thames and its teeming docks where towering schooners and clipper ships unload their fabulous cargoes and wharf rats and night plunderers ply their trades is unknown territory.
Only dire need persuades him to accept an assignment from shipping magnate Clement Louvain to investigate the theft of a cargo of African ivory from Louvain's recently docked schooner, the Maude Idris. Monk is desperate for work, not only to feed himself and his wife, Hester, but to keep open the doors of Hester's clinic, a last resort for sick and starving street women.
But he wonders: Why didn't Louvain report the ivory theft directly to the River Police? Why did he warn Monk not to investigate the murder of one of the Maude Idris crew? Even more mysterious, why has Louvain brought to Hester's clinic a desperately ill woman who he claims is the discarded mistress of an old friend? Neither Hester nor Monk anticipates the nightmare answers tothese questions...nor the trap that soon so fatefully ensnares them.
In this magnificent novel, Anne Perry holds the reader spellbound, as Monk and Hester struggle to save themselves and their world from a catastrophe whose dimensions they can scarcely measure.
"The strain of publishing two major novels a year continues to show in bestseller Perry's 14th historical to feature private inquiry agent William Monk and his wife, Hester, despite the fresh start for Monk, who has recovered from the amnesia that afflicted him in Death of a Stranger (2002). In the autumn of 1873, because he needs the money, Monk agrees to recover valuable cargo stolen from a ship waiting to be unloaded at an East End London dock for the ship's owner, Clement Louvain, with the proviso that Louvain will also prosecute the thieves for murdering the ship's watchman. Monk enlists the aid of a young Cockney orphan, Scuff, who doubts Monk's ability to investigate a Docklands crime: 'Yer in't got the wits fer it, nor the stomach neither. Yer stick to wot yer can do wotever that is.' Meanwhile, Hester, who receives no pay for the clinic she runs for streetwalkers, must deal with an unexpected death that she suspects may be murder. Unfortunately, the author too often tells rather than shows. The reader waits impatiently for the 'ruthless' Monk to say or do something that suggests that quality. Still, with its focus on the lower classes and the Thames, the plot will resonate with fans of Dickens's riparian novel, Our Mutual Friend. And, as always, Perry uses her characters and story to comment on ethical issues that remain as relevant today as they were in Victorian times. Expect another bestseller. Agent, Donald Maass. (On sale Apr. 27) FYI: Perry has recently edited a mystery anthology with a Charles Dickens theme, Death by Dickens (Forecasts, Feb. 23)." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[S]cenes that could have come out of Dickens's Our Mutual Friend....As the sailor says, 'River's full o' tales,' and Perry knows how to bring them to life." Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
"Sketchy characterization, a somewhat obvious plot, but marvelous historical material on the Thames." Connie Fletcher, Booklist
The "New York Times" bestselling author sends her venerable Victorian sleuth William Monk into new territory--the shadowy wharfs along the Thames--to investigate a theft and some suspicious activity.
About the Author
Among Anne Perry
s other novels featuring investigator William Monk are Death of a Stranger
, Funeral in Blue
, Slaves of Obsession
, and The Twisted Root
. She also writes the popular novels featuring Thomas and Charlotte Pitt, including Seven Dials
, Southampton Row
, The Whitechapel Conspiracy
, and Half Moon Street
. In addition, she is also the author of a new series set during World War One that began with No Graves as Yet
. Her short story “Heroes” won an Edgar Award. Anne Perry lives in Scotland. Visit her Web site at www.anneperry.net.
From the Hardcover edition.