I started reading Anne Perry years ago; she has several series, but my favorite is the one featuring Monk & Hester. Although it has been a long time since I've read any of Perry's novels, when NetGalley offered a new book with Monk & Hester, I jumped on it.
William Monk is now commander of the River Police and is on the water when an explosion sinks a pleasure boat full of revelers. The explosion sinks the boat within minutes, and Monk and Orme are immediately pressed into rescuing survivors.
Of some 200 people aboard the Princess Mary, only a few survive, and the event sends shock waves that reverberate throughout England. Monk vows to discover who was responsible, but very quickly, to his great frustration, the River Police are removed from the investigation.
A conspiracy to cover up is evidently in place, and it isn't clear how far up the corruption extends. An Egyptian man is caught, tried, and convicted, but there are obvious flaws in the investigation that fail to place the man on the Princess Mary. When some of the problems with the conviction surface, the investigation is handed back to Monk and the River Police, but by then all of the evidence and witness testimony is contaminated, and Monk and his team seem to be set up for failure. The motivation for the bombing is still unclear, and it is the motivation that will eventually reveal who is responsible.
Characters from previous novels are back in play, and Perry is so good at giving life to secondary characters that it is always a pleasure to see them again. I missed the novel preceding this one, so I'm curious about the circumstances surrounding Sir Oliver Rathbone and Scuff (Scuff was new to me, but Sir Oliver has been in most of this series).
The second trial is sometimes a bit tedious and repetitious. And the involvement of several of the individuals who are so determined to impede justice doesn't feel adequately explained. I was surprised at the ultimate cause of the cover up, however.
Even if the section concerning the second trial was a bit slow, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Monk and Hester in action again. Once again, Perry effectively develops her characters and immerses the reader in a Victorian England that feels authentic.
Read in July; blog post scheduled for Aug. 12, 2014.
Historic Fiction/Mystery. Sept. 9, 2014. Print length: 320 pages.