August 23, 2014
By now, I know what to expect when I read the next book in one of Anne Perry's excellent historical series. Thomas Pitt or William Monk will be called in a difficult case, Charlotte or Hester will help them solve it, Lady Vespasia or Oliver Rathbone will lend their wisdom or influence, there will be an early resolution, which comes too early in the book for me to think it's the real one, then a long courtroom drama, and there will be something to threaten them before the real villain is revealed. But her books are so well-written, and so intelligent, that I don't mind. I always look forward to them.
In this one, the newest William Monk mystery, Monk (who leads the River Police in Victorian London), is crossing the Thames with his sergeant when they witness a horrific explosion on a pleasure boat. Monk and Orme help to rescue some of the victims, and are devastated by their inability to save others. Monk is also haunted by what he saw first: a man leaping from the boat, seconds before the explosion. The next day, Monk is enraged to learn that the case has been taken away from him. There's an immediate suspicion of terrorism, and of a link to unrest over the dangerous working conditions at the building of the Suez Canal. The investigators quickly satisfy the public's demand for justice by arresting an Egyptian man, but Monk, Hester and Scruff (their adopted son) continue to investigate, in part to prove that the insult to the River Police was not justified.
One of the things I like best about these books is what the author does with her 'other' recurring characters, which adds another dimension to the story. Sir Oliver Rathbone was a central figure in the last book, and has gone from being a newly-appointed judge to being disbarred after he acts unethically to secure the conviction of a dangerous man. In this book, he has just returned from a three-month European tour with his father -- something he has always wanted to do -- and is trying to settle into his new home and his new life, but instead of being at the center of the courtroom proceedings, he can only quietly advise and observe.
Blood on the Water will be published in September; I had the chance to enjoy it early courtesy of Netgalley.