In this riveting new William Monk novel, Anne Perry delves into the diverse population of Victorian London, whose disparate communities force Monk to rethink his investigative techniques -- lest he be caught in the crosshairs of violent bigotry.
In the course of his tenure with the Thames River Police, Commander Monk has yet to see a more gruesome crime scene: a Hungarian warehouse owner lies in the middle of his blood-sodden office, pierced through the chest with a bayonet and eerily surrounded by seventeen candles, their wicks dipped in blood. Suspecting the murder may be rooted in ethnic prejudice, Monk turns to London's Hungarian community in search of clues but finds his inquiries stymied by its wary citizens and a language he doesn't speak. Only with the help of a local pharmacist acting as translator can Monk hope to penetrate this tightly knit enclave, even as more of its members fall victim to identical brutal murders. But whoever the killer, or killers, may be -- a secret society practicing ritual sacrifice, a madman on a spree, a British native targeting foreigners -- they are well hidden among the city's ever-growing populace.
With the able assistance of his wife -- former battlefield nurse Hester, who herself is dealing with a traumatized war veteran who may be tangled up in the murders -- Monk must combat distrust, hostility, and threats from the very people he seeks to protect. But as the body count grows, stirring ever greater fear and anger among the Hungarian émigrés, resistance to the police also increases. Racing time and the rising tide of terror all around him, Monk must be even more relentless than the mysterious killer, or the echoes of malice and murder will resound through London's streets like a clarion of doom.
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This 23rd William Monk book is masterfully writtten, and very compelling. The ending blew me away, even though I had figured out who actually was the murderer about 2/3 of the way through. Anne Perry's dialogue and character development are second to none. Not only that, but we find out some really wonderful nuggets of information about Hester's earlier life and about her family. Monk has been called into a particularly brutal murder in London's dock area and in an area where Hungarian immigrants live. The murder is particularly gruesome. And before they Monk and Hooper get very far, another identical murder takes place in the same area. They are trying to catch a particularly sadistic killer and put a stop to the senseless killings. Before the murderer is unmasked Monk, with the help of the intrepid Hester, have to plumb the depths of the murderer's mind and the unresolved past that drives him now, and while doing this, it brings up past unhappy memories for both of them. I loved the pace of the book, and as usual, loved the courtroom scene with Rathbone, but mostly I love Monk and Hester. They are two of the most complex fictional characters that I've encountered.