A Sunless Sea (William Monk Series #18)

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Overview

Anne Perry’s spellbinding Victorian mysteries, especially those featuring William Monk, have enthralled readers for a generation. The Plain Dealer calls Monk “a marvelously dark, brooding creation”—and, true to form, this new Perry masterpiece is as deceptively deep and twisty as the Thames.
 
As commander of the River Police, Monk is accustomed to violent death, but the mutilated female body found on Limehouse Pier one chilly December ...

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A Sunless Sea (William Monk Series #18)

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Overview

Anne Perry’s spellbinding Victorian mysteries, especially those featuring William Monk, have enthralled readers for a generation. The Plain Dealer calls Monk “a marvelously dark, brooding creation”—and, true to form, this new Perry masterpiece is as deceptively deep and twisty as the Thames.
 
As commander of the River Police, Monk is accustomed to violent death, but the mutilated female body found on Limehouse Pier one chilly December morning moves him with horror and pity. The victim’s name is Zenia Gadney. Her waterfront neighbors can tell him little—only that the same unknown gentleman had visited her once a month for many years. She must be a prostitute, but—described as quiet and kempt—she doesn’t appear to be a fallen woman.
 
What sinister secrets could have made poor Zenia worth killing? And why does the government keep interfering in Monk’s investigation?
 
While the public cries out for blood, Monk, his spirited wife, Hester, and their brilliant barrister friend, Oliver Rathbone, search for answers. From dank waterfront alleys to London’s fabulously wealthy West End, the three trail an ice-blooded murderer toward the unbelievable, possibly unprovable truth—and ultimately engage their adversaries in an electric courtroom duel. But unless they can work a miracle, a monumental evil will go unpunished and an innocent person will hang.
 
Anne Perry has never worn her literary colors with greater distinction than in A Sunless Sea, a heart-pounding novel of intrigue and suspense in which Monk is driven to make the hardest decision of his life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At the start of Perry’s searing 18th William Monk Victorian historical (after 2011’s Acceptable Loss), repeated screams prompt Monk, commander of the Thames River Police, to start rowing for shore. He disembarks at Limehouse Pier, where he encounters a hysterical woman pointing to an eviscerated female corpse. After identifying the victim as Zenia Gadney, the detective learns from Gadney’s neighbors that she used to have a regular gentleman caller, who stopped visiting a few months earlier. Later identified as Dr. Joel Lambourn, the doctor took his own life soon after the government rejected a report he’d written advocating accurate labeling on opium products. Lambourn’s researches prove to be of vital importance in cracking the murder case. After Monk begrudgingly arrests a suspect, his continued police work is supplemented by the courtroom efforts of Sir Oliver Rathbone, who has been retained for the defense. Much more than a whodunit, this book, possibly the author’s best yet, is especially effective at providing a nuanced look at a vital controversy of the day. Agent: Donald Maass, Donald Maass Literary. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
Cmdr. William Monk, of the Thames River Police (Execution Dock, 2009, etc.), continues his quest to cure Victorian London of all its social ills--this time, of the horrors of unregulated opium. No one would care tuppence about the murder of a woman Monk has trouble even identifying as Zenia Gadney, a reputed widow of uncertain means, if she hadn't been killed in such a spectacular fashion: bashed to death, gutted and left on Limehouse Pier. But the news that the monthly visitor who paid Zenia's household expenses for 15 years was Dr. Joel Lambourn turns the case into a hot potato. Before he was found dead in Greenwich Park, Lambourn had been conducting research into opium use on behalf of a government commission chaired by rising political star Sinden Bawtry, a commission considering the regulation of opium whose members included Barclay Herne, the husband of Lambourn's sister, Amity. The verdict on Lambourn's death was suicide, but Dinah, his widow, tells Monk he was murdered. Little does she know that her insistence that Monk reopen the case will lead to her own arrest for Zenia's murder. Begging Sir Oliver Rathbone to defend her, she sets up an impossible situation: The more Rathbone learns about Lambourn's research into the evils of opium--especially the threat of its injection directly into the bloodstream through those villainous new hollow-stemmed needles--the more difficult he realizes it will be to make a case against powerful forces deeply invested in keeping the drug freely flowing. Lumbering, repetitive and preachy. But the final surprise packs a punch, and the overlong courtroom sequences show how much Perry's learned about legal testimony since Cain His Brother (1995).
The New York Times Book Review
Anne Perry's Victorian mysteries are marvels of plot construction.
—Marilyn Stasio
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR ANNE PERRY AND HER WILLIAM MONK NOVELS
 
A Sunless Sea
 
“Anne Perry’s Victorian mysteries are marvels.”—The New York Times Book Review

Acceptable Loss
 
“Masterful storytelling and moving dialogue . . . [the] best in the series to date.”—The Star-Ledger
 
Execution Dock
 
“[An] engrossing page-turner . . . There’s no one better at using words to paint a scene and then fill it with sounds and smells than Anne Perry.”—The Boston Globe
 
Dark Assassin
 
“Brilliant . . . a page-turning thriller . . . blending compelling plotting with superbly realized human emotion and exquisite period detail.”—Jeffery Deaver, author of Edge
 
The Shifting Tide
 
“The mysterious and dangerous waterfront world of London’s ‘longest street,’ the Thames, comes to life.”—South Florida Sun-Sentinel
 
Death of a Stranger
 
“[A] tantalizing puzzle . . . At last, in Death of a Stranger, the secrets of Monk’s past are dramatically revealed.”—The New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345510648
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/2012
  • Series: William Monk Series , #18
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 939,517
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Perry

Anne Perry is the bestselling author of two acclaimed series set in Victorian England: the William Monk novels, including Acceptable Loss and Execution Dock, and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels, including Dorchester Terrace and Treason at Lisson Grove. She is also the author of a series of five World War I novels, as well as nine holiday novels, most recently A Christmas Homecoming, and a historical novel, The Sheen on the Silk, set in the Byzantine Empire. Anne Perry lives in Scotland.

Biography

Born in London in October 1938, Anne Perry was plagued with health problems as a young child. So severe were her illnesses that at age eight she was sent to the Bahamas to live with family friends in the hopes that the warmer climate would improve her health. She returned to her family as a young teenager, but sickness and frequent moves had interrupted her formal education to the extent that she was finally forced to leave school altogether. With the encouragement of her supportive parents, she was able to "fill in the gaps" with voracious reading, and her lack of formal schooling has never held her back.

Although Perry held down many jobs—working at various times as a retail clerk, stewardess, limousine dispatcher, and insurance underwriter—the only thing she ever seriously wanted to do in life was to write. (In her '20s, she started putting together the first draft of Tathea, a fantasy that would not see print until 1999.) At the suggestion of her stepfather, she began writing mysteries set in Victorian London; and in 1979, one of her manuscripts was accepted for publication. The book was The Cater Street Hangman, an ingenious crime novel that introduced a clever, extremely untidy police inspector named Thomas Pitt. In this way an intriguing mystery series was born…along with a successful writing career.

In addition to the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt novels, Perry crafts darker, more layered Victorian mysteries around the character of London police detective William Monk, whose memory has been impaired by a coach accident. (Monk debuted in 1990's The Face of a Stranger.) She also writes historical novels set during the First World War (No Graves as Yet, Shoulder the Sky, etc.) and holiday-themed mysteries (A Christmas Journey, A Christmas Secret, etc), and her short stories have been included in several anthologies.

Good To Know

Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Anne Perry:

The first time I made any money telling a story I was four and a half years old—golden hair, blue eyes, a pink smocked dress, and neat little socks and shoes. I walked home from school (it was safe then) with my lunchtime sixpence unspent. A large boy, perhaps 12 or 13, stopped me. He was carrying a stick and threatened to hit me if I didn't give him my sixpence. I told him a long, sad story about how poor we were—no food at home, not even enough money for shoes! He gave me his half crown—five times sixpence! It's appalling! I didn't think of it as lying, just escaping with my sixpence. How on earth he could have believed me I have no idea. Perhaps that is the knack of a good story—let your imagination go wild, pile on the emotions—believe it yourself, evidence to the contrary be damned. I am not really proud of that particular example!

I used to live next door to people who had a tame dove. They had rescued it when it broke its wing. The wing healed, but it never learned to fly again. I used to walk a mile or so around the village with the dove. Its little legs were only an inch or two long, so it got tired, then it would ride on my head. Naturally I talked to it. It was a very nice bird. I got some funny looks. Strangers even asked me if I knew there was a bird on my head! Who the heck did they think I was talking to? Of course I knew there was a bird on my head. I'm not stupid—just a writer, and entitled to be a little different. I'm also English, so that gives me a second excuse!

On the other hand I'm not totally scatty. I like maths, and I used to love quadratic equations. One of the most exciting things that happened to me was when someone explained non-Euclidean geometry to me, and I suddenly saw the infinite possibilities in lateral thinking! How could I have been so blind before?

Here are some things I like—and one thing I don't:

  • I love wild places, beech trees, bluebell woods, light on water—whether the light is sunlight, moonlight, or lamplight; and whether the water is ocean, rain, snow, river, mist, or even a puddle.

  • I love the setting sun in autumn over the cornstooks.

  • I love to eat raspberries, pink grapefruit, crusty bread dipped in olive oil.

  • I love gardens where you seem to walk from "room to room," with rambling roses and vines climbing into the trees and sudden vistas when you turn corners.

  • I love white swans and the wild geese flying overhead.

  • I dislike rigidity, prejudice, ill-temper, and perhaps above all, self-righteousness.

  • I love laughter, mercy, courage, hope. I think that probably makes me pretty much like most people. But that isn't bad.
  • Read More Show Less
      1. Also Known As:
        Juliet Hulme
      2. Hometown:
        Portmahomack, Ross-shire, U.K
      1. Date of Birth:
        October 28, 1938
      2. Place of Birth:
        Blackheath, London England

    Read an Excerpt

    chapter

    1

    The sun was rising slowly, splashing red light across the river. The drops thrown from Monk’s oars glowed momentarily in the air, like wine, or blood. On the other seat, a yard or so in front of him, Orme leaned forward and threw his weight against the drag of the current. They worked in perfect rhythm, used to each other now; it was the last week of November 1864, nearly two years since Monk had taken command of the Thames River Police at the Wapping Station.

    That was a small victory for him. Orme had been part of the River Police all his adult life. For Monk it was a big adjustment after working first for the Metropolitan Police, and then for himself.

    The peace of his satisfaction was shattered by a scream, which was piercing even above the creak of the oarlocks and the sound of the wash from a passing string of barges breaking on the shore. Monk and Orme both turned toward the north bank and Limehouse Pier, which was no more than twenty yards away.

    The scream came again, shrill with terror, and suddenly a figure appeared, black against the shadowy outline of the sheds and warehouses on the embankment. It was someone in a long coat, waving their arms and stumbling around; it was impossible to tell whether it was a man or a woman.

    With a glance over his shoulder at Monk, Orme dug his oars in again and swung the boat round toward the shore.

    The low clouds were parting and the light became stronger; the figure materialized into a woman in a long skirt, standing on the pier, waving her arms and crying out to them, her words so jumbled in terror they were unintelligible.

    The boat bumped at the steps and Orme tied it up.

    Monk grasped the closest wooden beam and clambered out, going up the steps as fast as he could. When he got to the top he saw that the woman was now sobbing and putting her hands to her face as if to block out all possible vision.

    Monk looked around. He could see no one else, nothing to cause such hysterical fear. Nor could he immediately see any evidence of a threat to the woman. The pier was empty except for her and Monk, and then Orme, coming up the steps.

    Monk took her arm gently. “What is it?” he asked, his voice firm. “What’s wrong?”

    She pulled away from him and swung round, jabbing her finger toward a heap of rubbish, which was slowly becoming more visible in the spreading morning light.

    Monk walked over to it, his stomach clenching when he realized that what he had taken for torn canvas was actually the sodden skirt of a woman, her body so mutilated it was not instantly recognizable as human. There was no need to wonder if she was dead. She was twisted over, half on her back, her blue, sightless eyes turned up to the sky. Her hair was matted, and blood-­soaked at the back. But it was the rest of her body that made his gorge rise and choked the breath in his throat. Her belly was ripped open, and her entrails were torn out and laid like pale, skinless snakes across her loins.

    Monk heard Orme’s step behind him.

    “Dear God!” Orme breathed out the words, not as a blasphemy but a cry for help, for what he saw not to be real.

    Monk swallowed hard and grasped Orme’s shoulder for a moment. Then, stumbling a little on the rough boards of the pier, he went back to the woman, who was now standing trembling uncontrollably.

    “Do you know who she is?” he said softly.

    The woman shook her head, trying to push him away, but there was no strength in her. “No! God ’elp me, I dunno ’er. I come lookin’ fer me man. Bastard’s bin out all night! An’ I find ’er.” She crossed herself as if to ward off the horror. “I were terrified it were ’im, till I saw ’er, poor cow.”

    “You found her just now, when you screamed?” Monk asked.

    “Yeah. Ye’re River Police, eh?”

    “Yes. What’s your name?”

    She hesitated only a moment. With that thing lying on the boards, almost close enough to touch, perhaps the presence of the police was not such a bad thing as usual.

    “Ruby Jones.”

    “Where do you live, Mrs. Jones?” Monk asked. “And the truth, please. You don’t want us coming looking for you, spreading your name up and down the riverside.”

    She looked at his eyes and decided he meant it. “Northey Street, be’ind the work’ouse,” she answered.

    “Look at her again, please,” he said more gently. “Look at her face. It’s not too bad. Keep your eyes off the rest. Think if you’ve seen her before.”

    “I don’t! I don’ know ’er!” she repeated. “I’m not lookin’ at that thing again. I’m gonna see it the rest o’ me life!”

    He did not argue with her.

    “Did you just come down here, or were you waiting here for a while, maybe calling out for your man?”

    “I were lookin’ fer ’im when I saw that. ’Ow long d’yer think I’m gonna stand ’ere, wi’ that beside me, eh?”

    “Not very long,” he agreed. “Will you be all right to find your way home, Mrs. Jones?”

    “Yeah.” She jerked her arm sharply out of his grip. “Yeah.” She took a deep breath, then looked toward the body, the horror in her face replaced by pity for a moment. “Poor cow,” she repeated under her breath.

    Monk let her go and turned to Orme. Together they went back to the corpse. Monk touched her face gently. The flesh was cold. He put a hand down to one of her shoulders, a little under the edge of her dress, feeling for any warmth at all. There was nothing. She had probably been dead all night.

    Orme helped him turn her fully onto her back, completely exposing her ripped-­open belly with its pale entrails bulging out, slimy with blood.

    Orme let out a gasp of horror and for a moment he swayed, even though he was used to corpses. He was familiar with the destruction that time and predators could cause to a body, but this was a barbarity inflicted by man, and it clearly shook him to a point where he could not hide his shock. He coughed, and seemed to choke on his own breath. “We’d better call the police surgeon, and the local station,” he said hoarsely.

    Monk nodded, swallowing hard. For a moment he had felt paralyzed with horror and pity. The river he was so used to seemed suddenly cold and strange. Familiar shapes of wharves and wooden piles jutting out of the water closed in on them, seeming threatening as the sharp dawn light distorted their proportions.

    Orme’s face was grim. “Found her on the pier, means she’s our case, sir,” he said miserably. “But of course land police may know who she is, poor creature. Could be this is domestic. Or, if she’s a local prostitute, then perhaps we’ve got a lunatic on our hands.”

    “Either way we have a lunatic on our hands. Even if it was domestic, no sane man could do this to his wife,” Monk said incredulously.

    “Who knows? Sometimes I think hate’s worse than madness.” Orme shook his head. “The local station’s up the street that way.” He indicated with his arm. “If you like, I’ll stay here with her while you go get them, sir.”

    It was the sensible thing to do, since Monk was by far the senior of the two. Still, he was grateful, and said so. He had no wish to remain standing on the pier with the chill of the wind seeping into his bones, keeping watch over that dreadful corpse.

    “Thank you. I’ll be as quick as I can.” He turned and walked rapidly across the pier itself, onto the bank and up toward the street. The sky was pale, the early sun silhouetting the wharves and warehouses. He passed half a dozen stevedores on their way to work. A lamplighter, little more than a gray shadow himself, reached his pole up and snuffed out the last lamp on the street.

    An hour later, Monk and Orme were standing in the local police station, still shivering. There was a chill inside that even hot tea with whisky could not shift. Overstone, the police surgeon, came in, closing the door behind him. He was in his sixties, his gray hair thinning but his face keen. He looked from the local sergeant to Orme, then to Monk. He shook his head.

    “It’s a bad one,” he said very quietly. “Most of the mutilation was almost certainly inflicted after death, perhaps all of it. Hard to be absolutely sure. If she wasn’t dead already, that would have killed her. But there was still quite a lot of bleeding. She’s been ripped open practically from navel to groin.”

    Monk looked at the man’s strained face and saw the pity in his eyes. “If she was dead when that happened, what killed her?” he asked.

    “The blow to the back of the head,” Overstone replied. “Single one. Hard enough to break her skull. Piece of lead pipe, I’d say, or something like that.”

    He was standing by a wooden desk piled with papers of varying sizes, handwritten by many different people. There were neat bookshelves all around, the contents not stuffed back in place untidily like Monk’s own. There were no pictures tacked up on the wall.

    “Nothing else you can tell us?” Monk asked without much hope.

    Overstone’s mouth turned down at the corners. “Pretty vicious. Lot of weight behind the blow, but it could have been anybody between five and six foot tall.”

    “Left hand? Right hand?” Monk persisted.

    “Probably right-­handed, but could be either. Not much help,” Overstone said apologetically. “Most people are right-­handed.”

    “And the . . . mutilation?”

    “Long blade: four or five inches, I’d say. The cuts are deep, edges pretty sharp. Butcher’s knife, sailor’s knife—­or sailmaker’s, for that matter. For God’s sake, man, half the chandlers, lightermen, or boatbuilders on the river have something that could have cut the poor woman open. Even a razor! Could be a barber, for that matter. Or any man who shaves himself.” He seemed annoyed, as if his inability to narrow his answer stung him like some kind of guilt.

    “Or any housewife with a kitchen,” the sergeant added.

    Monk glanced at him.

    “Sorry, sir.” The man lowered his eyes.

    “No need,” Monk replied. “You’re right. Could be anyone at all.” He turned to Overstone again. “What about the woman herself? What can you tell me?”

    Overstone shrugged in a gesture of futility. “Mid-­forties. Quite healthy, as far as I can tell at a quick examination,” he replied. “About five foot four. Fairish hair, bit of gray at the sides. Blue eyes, pleasant face but no remarkable features. Good teeth; I suppose that’s unusual. Very white. Slight crossover at the front. I imagine when she smiled that might have been attractive.” He looked down at the worn, wooden floor. “Sometimes I hate this bloody job!”

    Then instantly he lifted his head and the moment’s weakness was past. “Might be able to say more tomorrow. One thing I can tell you now, with mutilation like this, feelings are going to run very high. As soon as word gets out there’ll be fear, anger, then maybe panic. I don’t envy you.”

    Monk turned to the sergeant. “You’d best keep it as quiet as you can,” he ordered. “Don’t give any details. The family doesn’t need to know them, anyway. If she had one. Don’t suppose anyone’s been reported missing?”

    “No, sir,” the sergeant replied unhappily. “And we’ll try.” But his words lacked conviction.

    Monk and Orme began near Limehouse Pier and worked along the stretch of Narrow Street, north and south, asking everyone they passed, or in the shops now open, if they had seen anyone going toward the pier the previous evening. Did they know anyone who would return home that way after work, or prostitutes who might seek customers in the area?

    The description of the woman was too general for the police to try to identify her: average height, fair brown hair, blue eyes. And it was too early for anyone to be considered missing.

    They were told of several prostitutes, even one or two people who liked to walk that route, as Narrow Street offered a pleasant view of the river in places. They gathered a dozen names.

    They moved inland up the alleys to Northey Street, Orme in one direction, Monk the other, asking the same questions. It was cold, but the wind had dropped and there was no rain. The low winter sun held no heat.

    Monk was walking along the footpath in Ropemakers Fields when a small woman in gray came out of a door carrying a bundle of laundry balanced on her hip. Monk stopped almost in front of her.

    “Excuse me, do you live here?” he asked.

    She looked him up and down suspiciously. He was dressed in his usual dark, plain clothes, like those a waterman might wear, but the cut was far better, as if a tailor had made them rather than a chandler. His speech was precise, his voice gentle, and he stood with both grace and confidence.

    “Yeah . . . ,” she said guardedly. “ ’Oo are yer as wants ter know?”

    “Commander Monk of the River Police,” he replied. “I’m looking for anyone who might have heard a fight last night, a woman screaming, perhaps a man shouting at her.”

    She sighed and rolled her eyes wearily. “If I ever ’ave a night when I don’t ’ear nobody fighting I’ll tell yer. In fact, I’ll tell the bleedin’ newspapers. Now, if yer don’t mind, I got work ter do.” She pushed her hair out of her eyes and with an irritable gesture began to move past him.

    Monk stepped sideways to block her way. “This wasn’t an ordinary fight. The woman was killed. Probably an hour or two after dark, on Limehouse Pier.”

    “Wot kind of woman?” she asked him, her face suddenly frightened, mouth drawn tight with a new anxiety.

    “About forty or so,” he replied. He saw her face relax. He guessed she had daughters who passed that way, possibly even stood around gossiping or flirting. “She was an inch or two taller than you, fair hair with a little gray in it. Quite pretty, in a quiet way.” He remembered the teeth. “Probably a nice smile.”

    “Dunno,” the woman with the laundry answered. “Don’t sound like no one as I ever seen. Yer sure she were forty, like?”

    “Yes. And she was wearing ordinary clothes, not like a woman looking for business,” he added. “And there was no paint on her face that we could see.” He felt callous speaking of her like that. He had robbed her of character, of humor or dreams, likes and dislikes; probably because he wanted to rob her also of her terror. Please God, she did not know what had happened to her afterward. He hoped she had not even seen the blade.

    “Then ’er ’usband done ’er in,” the woman replied, pulling an expression of weary grief. “But I dunno ’oo she is. Could be anyone.” She pushed a few trailing hairs back off her face again and adjusted the weight of the laundry bag on her hip.

    Monk thanked her and moved on. He stopped other people, both men and women, asking the same questions and getting more or less the same answers. No one recognized the woman from Monk’s description of her. No one admitted to being anywhere near Limehouse Pier after dark, which at this time of the year was about five o’clock in the afternoon. The evening had been overcast and damp. Little work was possible after that. No one had heard shouting or anything that sounded like a fight. They were all keen to go home and eat, find a little warmth and possibly a pint or two of ale.

    Monk met up with Orme at noon. They had a cup of hot tea and a ham sandwich at the corner stand, finding a little shelter in a doorway as they spoke, coat collars turned up.

    “Nobody’s seen or heard anything,” Orme said unhappily. “Not that I expected them to. Word’s out already that it’s pretty bad. All suddenly blind and deaf.” He took another bite of his ham sandwich.

    “Not surprising,” Monk answered, sipping his tea. It was hot and a bit too strong, but he was used to it. It was nothing like the fresh, fragrant tea at home. This was probably made hours ago, and added to with boiling water every time it got low. “Ruby Jones probably told her friends, and they told theirs. It’ll be all over Limehouse by this afternoon.”

    “They should be frightened enough to want this butcher caught,” Orme said between his teeth.

    “They’re shutting their eyes and pretending it’s all miles away,” Monk replied. “Can’t blame them. I would if I could. That’s how half the bad things happen. We don’t want to know, don’t want to be involved. If the victim did something wrong, something stupid, and brought it on themselves, if we stay out of it then it won’t happen to us.”

    “But it isn’t miles away,” Orme said softly. He was leaning a little against a stanchion, gazing far away into the distance. Monk had no idea what he saw in it. There were startling moments when he felt he knew Orme intimately because of the bitter and terrible experiences they had shared, things that were understood but could never be put into words. But there were far more days like this when they worked together with mutual respect, something bordering on a kind of friendship, but the difference between them was never forgotten, at least not by Orme. “It’s right here. Unless she came here by boat. Either way, she was killed there on the pier, and then cut open like that.” His mouth tightened. His face was very pale under his windburn. “Or I suppose they could’ve killed her somewhere else, and then cut her here?” he suggested, his voice grating in his throat.

    “She wouldn’t have bled like that if she’d been dead awhile,” Monk replied. “Overstone said that from the way the blood was, and the bruising, he reckoned she was just recently dead.”

    Orme swore under his breath, then apologized.

    Monk waved his hand, dismissing it.

    They both stood on the cold stones of the street, saying nothing for several moments. Other people were coming for the tea, their footsteps loud on the cobbles. Somewhere a dog was barking.

    “Do you think they could’ve cut her up like that in the dark?” Orme finally broke the silence. “Not seeing what they were doing?”

    Monk looked at him. “There were no streetlamps where we found her. Either they did it in the dark, or while there was still some daylight left.”

    “Why there, anyway?” Orme asked. He tightened his hunched shoulders as if his jacket were not enough to keep him warm. “It’s not a place a prostitute would take a man. The riding lights of a barge would illuminate you long enough to be seen.”

    “Maybe they were seen,” Monk thought aloud. “From the distance, a man struggling with a woman could look like an embrace. Lightermen would just laugh at his boldness doing it out in the open, a kind of bravado. They would think he was taking his pleasure, not killing her.”

    “Not much point looking for anyone who saw,” Orme said unhappily. “They could be anywhere by now, from Henley to Gravesend.”

    “Wouldn’t help us much anyway,” Monk replied. “They’d have no way of knowing if it was her they saw, or any other couple.” The thought depressed him. A woman could be murdered and gutted like a fish, out in the open, in full view of the ships going past, on the most populous river in the world, and no one notice or understand what was happening.

    He straightened up, eating the last of his sandwich. He had to choke it down. There was nothing wrong with it, but his mouth was dry. The bread tasted like sawdust.

    “We’d best see if we can find out who she was,” he said. “Not that it will necessarily help us much. She was probably just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

    “There’ll still be people to tell,” Orme responded. “Friends, even a husband.”

    Monk did not answer. He knew it. It was the worst part of the beginning in any murder case: telling those who had cared about the victim. In the end, the worst was finding the person who had done it, and those who cared about them.

    Together they walked back up Narrow Street to the corner of Ropemakers Fields and then along it slowly. On the north side there were alleys every few dozen yards. Some led up to Triangle Place, and then on to the workhouse.

    They asked there, giving as good a description of the dead woman as they could, but no one was missing. In any case, the dead woman’s hands had not looked like those of a woman used to physical labor: red from long hours wet or submerged in caustic soap, scrubbing floors or laundering, or calloused from the constant prick of the needle while sewing canvas.

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    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 4
    ( 26 )
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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
    • Posted September 21, 2012

      more from this reviewer

      One of her best!

      After 17 books, I didn't expect the series to have new and fresh character development. I was pleasantly surprised by the way in which the characters' relationships deepened and set the stage for the next book in the series. The story line is a well-developed, twisting story that includes historical settings to better understand England during this time period.

      4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted February 27, 2013

      I was very excited to find two new William Monk books, but I was

      I was very excited to find two new William Monk books, but I was disappointed in this book. Unfortunately Anne Perry is following the same fashion with William Monk as with Thomas Pitt ... political conspiracies. Although heavy on long winded details, I did learn more about the Opium Wars. Please return to the old formula … solving crimes across the spectrum of society, and utilize the skills of Hester, William and Oliver.

      2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted September 23, 2012

      Seems a bit hurried

      First, let me say that Anne Perry is one of a small handful of authors whose works I purchase in hardcover. I've read all of her Monk books and all of the Pitt books. This one seems to have been rushed, particularly toward the end. Still, the usual cast of interesting characters is in the mix, and her descriptions of settings and period details are top-notch. I'd have liked to have more of Scuff, but I understand that it's not likely he'd have been involved in this plot involving opium. (But he seems to be sleeping all the time!) The marital difficulties of the fascinating Rathbone build suspense nicely, and the historical details of the Opium Wars and ready availability of the drug were intriguing. I do wonder about things like the possibility of "tire" marks in the park -- not likely in this era. Also, when Miss Nesbitt testifies, Perry doesn't have her leave the witness stand, usually an opportunity for her to do her usual virtuoso descriptive characterizations of the exit of the witness. Still, it is an admirable book and I look forward to Monk and Hester's next outing. I confess that I am a picky reader, and Perry is one of the few authors whose works I trust to hold my interest and leave me having learned something during what is always a pleasurable read.

      2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted September 22, 2012

      As always a GREAT READ!

      Anne Perry again does not disappoint. I have read all of Annes books. I can hardly wait until the next one comes out. Monk and Hester always work out the answer with limited resources. The history Anne adds to her books is phenomenal. I feel the description of the life and times in the world throughout the book makes you feel like you are a part of the sounds, smells, and even to the air you breathe during the reading of the book.

      2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted September 3, 2012

      ?

      And yet again, we have harriet klausner ruining a book by revealing the entire book in her long winded dissertations. Hk, read other reviews and maybe you can learn how to write reviews. You DO NOT reveal every nuance of the book, you state if you like it or not and why.

      2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted March 11, 2013

      Can't lend

      Shame on the publisher for not allowing lending. I enjoy Anne Perry but am feeling ripped off for having to buy this twice for my mom and me.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted October 23, 2012

      Great as usual

      Anne Perry is one of my favorite writers. I couldn't stop until I knew who had done the murders! I hope that there are many more William Monk books in the future.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted October 5, 2012

      Highly recommend.

      As usual Anne Perry does an outstanding job. Love the interaction among her characters.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 9, 2013

      The best

      I love the Monk series. This one is the best one i have read as you do not know who the killer is until the last pages. Anne Perry has become one of my favorite authors.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted October 4, 2013

      REcommended

      After a few so, so novels, William Monk is back!

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 27, 2012

      Another great read from this author! I always enjoy the intrigu

      Another great read from this author! I always enjoy the intrigue and do not want to stop reading until I find out "who did it"!

      0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted November 2, 2012

      RECOMMEND

      I have been a long time fan of Anne Perry's work. Although not so much the WWI series. I think once you get to know the characters, you may want to see how they develop. She does a great job in exploring the issues of those times, as well as character development. I've been "hooked" on her work for years.

      0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted December 9, 2008

      more from this reviewer

      Great historical military thriller

      In 1917 in the trenches is France, thousands die to move the front inches. Passchendael is one of the worst of the hostilities as the British troops are losing lives and consequently hope. When their Commanding Officer dies, Major Northrup is called in to replace him, but it is the belief of the troops that he should not be in charge of such an ugly situation as he has no combat experience. He proves them right with bad decisions which lead to deaths and maiming of his soldiers as he rejects the advice of his experienced subordinate officers.------------- When Northrup is found dead, Chaplain Captain Joseph Reavley discovers that he was murdered by one of his own. The Major¿s father General Northrup demands justice while the captain wants to low key the mess knowing that internal violence could erupt if not carefully handled as everyone detested the deceased. However the general sets in motion events that could lead to eleven honorable soldiers shot by a firing squad and a mutiny on the line beyond that unless Joseph can find a legal way to find justice. and avert a tragedy tragedy.--------------- This is the third installment in Anne Perry¿s insightful WWI series in which the audience obtains a strong history lesson inside an exciting military whodunit. Readers will see the atrocities and horrors of trench warfare in which leaders sent men to their deaths to gain a few inches of land when the goal was as often successful as it was a suicidal stalemate. Good men were forced to do difficult things by a brass often comfortably entrenched in Paris, London, or Berlin while their soldiers were dying AT SOME DISPUTED BARRICADE.----------- Harriet Klausner

      0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 2, 2013

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 2, 2012

      No text was provided for this review.

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      Posted January 2, 2012

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted December 10, 2013

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted May 27, 2011

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted January 11, 2010

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted November 14, 2012

      No text was provided for this review.

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