Execution Dock (William Monk Series #16)

Execution Dock (William Monk Series #16)

4.1 48
by Anne Perry
     
 

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On the bustling docks along the River Thames, Great Britain’s merchant ships unload the treasures of the world. And here, in dank and sinister alleys, sex merchants ply their lucrative trade. The dreaded kingpin of this dark realm is Jericho Phillips, who seems far beyond the reach of the law. But when thirteen-year-old Fig is found with his throat cut,

Overview

On the bustling docks along the River Thames, Great Britain’s merchant ships unload the treasures of the world. And here, in dank and sinister alleys, sex merchants ply their lucrative trade. The dreaded kingpin of this dark realm is Jericho Phillips, who seems far beyond the reach of the law. But when thirteen-year-old Fig is found with his throat cut, Commander William Monk of the River Police swears that Phillips will hang for this abomination. Monk’s wife, Hester, draws a highly unusual guerrilla force to her husband’s cause—a canny ratcatcher, a retired brothel keeper, a fearless street urchin, and a rebellious society lady. To one as criminally minded as Phillips, these folks are mere mosquitoes, to be sure. But as he will soon discover, some mosquitoes can have a deadly sting.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Set in 1864, bestseller Perry's outstanding 16th novel to feature William Monk (after Dark Assassin) finds Monk suffering from a series of hard knocks, including memory loss. Now superintendent of the Thames River Police Force, Monk is on the verge of closing the books on Jericho Phillips, a particularly nasty villain who specializes in child pornography. Monk and his team catch Phillips, but what appears to be an airtight murder case springs leaks and ends with the accused's acquittal. Many in authority view the judgment as a rebuke to the river police, whose existence as a separate force is threatened. Convinced that he got the right man, despite the jury's verdict, Monk devotes himself to setting the record straight. Monk's wife, Hester, who works with London's downtrodden, provides support. Rich in plot development, believable characters and period detail, this entry will only add to the already sizable ranks of Perry's admirers. (Mar.)

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Library Journal

Oliver Rathbone is asked by his father-in-law to defend pornographer and pimp Jericho Phillips, charged with the vicious murder of a 13-year-old boy. In court, Rathbone cleverly dismantles the circumstantial evidence and then shreds the reputations of Hester and William Monk (Buckingham Palace Gardens). It is left to William Monk, now commander of the Thames River Police, and his capable wife to find a way to bring Phillips to justice. The prolific Perry's latest mystery includes outstanding descriptions of Victorian London, her usual attention to detail, and her keen understanding of human motivations. Her depictions of the subtleties of interpersonal relationships are exceeded only by her remarkable portrayal of Rathbone, who offers insights into how a trial lawyer guides the testimony of witnesses, plots a strategy, and manipulates the emotions of the jury. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ11/1/08.]


—Jo Ann Vicarel
Kirkus Reviews
William Monk, now commander of the Thames River Police's Wapping Station, finally closes his late predecessor's last case. Everyone in Queen Victoria's London knows that Jericho Phillips is the scourge of the Thames. Holed up in a well-guarded craft, he keeps a stable of young boys working to provide an unending stream of photographs for gentlemen with a taste for sodomy and pornography. But knowing isn't proving, as Monk finds to his fury after he chases Phillips down and arrests him. None other than Sir Oliver Rathbone, the former suitor of Monk's wife Hester, is engaged by an anonymous client of Arthur Ballinger, Rathbone's father-in-law, to defend Phillips. Exploiting his insider's knowledge of the passionate hatred of Phillips that Monk inherited from Commander Durban, the mentor who died heroically in his last case (A Christmas Grace, 2008), Rathbone is able to persuade a jury that Monk's arrest was based on prejudice rather than facts. His defeat forces Monk and Hester to start all over again, this time with the knowledge that Phillips is fully aware of their intentions and ready to anticipate each move. Perry offers the usual fare, except that this time the ceremonious speeches decrying human-rights abuses are less facile and more directly relevant, and the courtroom scenes are more plausible. Only readers new to Monk's exploits can doubt the outcome. Perry hammers every point home mercilessly, but fans of this well-upholstered series have surely learned long since to deal with repetition.
From the Publisher
"Set in 1864, bestseller Perry's outstanding 16th novel to feature William Monk (after Dark Assassin) finds Monk suffering from a series of hard knocks, including memory loss. Now superintendent of the Thames River Police Force, Monk is on the verge of closing the books on Jericho Phillips, a particularly nasty villain who specializes in child pornography. Monk and his team catch Phillips, but what appears to be an airtight murder case springs leaks and ends with the accused's acquittal. Many in authority view the judgment as a rebuke to the river police, whose existence as a separate force is threatened. Convinced that he got the right man, despite the jury's verdict, Monk devotes himself to setting the record straight. Monk's wife, Hester, who works with London's downtrodden, provides support. Rich in plot development, believable characters and period detail, this entry will only add to the already sizable ranks of Perry's admirers."—Publishers Weekly


Praise for Anne Perry and her William Monk novels

Dark Assassin
“Brilliant . . . a page-turning thriller . . . blending compelling plotting with superbly realized human emotion and exquisite period detail.” —Jeffery Deaver, author of The Broken Window

The Shifting Tide
“An engrossing story that leaves the reader waiting for Monk’s next adventure . . . 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.”—New York Times Book Review


Funeral in Blue

“No one writes more elegantly than Perry, nor better conjures up the rich and colorful tapestry of London in the Victorian era. But for all its arcane setting and stylistic eloquence, Funeral in Blue is an old-style private eye novel—and an extremely good one.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer

Slaves of Obsession

“Luxuriant . . . It’s E. M. Forster spliced with Thomas Harris. . . . Perry is a master.”—Baltimore Sun

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345512949
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/24/2009
Series:
William Monk Series , #16
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
86,459
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


The man balanced on the stern of the flat-bottomed lighter, his wild figure outlined against the glittering water of the Thames, hair whipped in the wind, face sharp, lips drawn back. Then, at the last moment, when the other lighter was almost past him, he crouched and sprang. He only just reached the deck, scrambling to secure his footing. He swayed for a moment, then regained his balance and turned. He waved once in grotesque jubilation, then dropped to his knees out of sight behind the close-packed bales of wool.  

Monk smiled grimly as the oarsmen strained to bring the police boat around against the outgoing tide and the wash from barges on their way up to the Pool of London. He would not have given orders to shoot, even were he certain of not hitting anyone else in the teeming river traffic. He wanted Jericho Phillips alive, so he could see him tried and hanged.  

In the prow of the boat, Orme swore under his breath. He was a grizzled man in his late fifties, a decade older than the lean and elegant Monk, who had been in the Thames River Police Force only half a year. It was very different from the force ashore, where his experience lay, but more difficult for him was taking over the leadership of men to whom he was an outsider. He had a reputation for brilliance in detection, but also for a nature ruthless and hard to know, or to like.  

Monk had changed since then. The accident eight years ago in 1856, which had wiped out his memory, had also given him a chance to begin again. He had learned to know himself through the eyes of others, and it had been bitterly enlightening. Not that he could explain that to anyone else.

  They were gaining on the lighter, where Phillips was crouching out of sight, ignored by the man at the helm. Another hundred feet and they would draw level. There were five of them in the police boat. That was more than usual, but a man like Phillips might require the extra strength to take him down. He was wanted for the murder of a boy of thirteen or fourteen, Walter Figgis, known as Fig. He was thin and undersized, which might have been what had kept him alive so long. Phillips's trade was in boys from the age of four or five up to the time when their voices changed and they began to assume some of the physical characteristics of adults, and they were thus of no use in his particular market of pornography.  

The police boat's bow sliced through the choppy water. Fifty yards away a pleasure boat went lazily upstream, perhaps eventually towards Kew Gardens. Colored streamers blew in the wind, and there was the sound of laughter mixed with music. Ahead of them nearly a hundred ships from coal barges to tea clippers were anchored in the Upper Pool. Lighters plied back and forth, and stevedores unloaded cargoes brought in from every corner of the earth.  

Monk leaned forward a little, drawing in breath to urge the oarsmen to even greater effort, then changed his mind. It would look as if he did not trust them to do their best anyway. But they could not possibly want to catch Phillips as much as he did. It was Monk, not they, who had involved Durban in the Louvain case that had eventually cost him his life. And it was Monk whom Durban had recommended to take his place when he knew he was dying.  

Orme had served with Durban for years, but if he resented Monk's command he had never once shown it. He was loyal, diligent, even helpful, but for the most part, impossible to read. However, the longer Monk watched him, the more he realized Orme's respect was necessary to his success, and more than that, he actually wanted it. The thought jarred inside him. He could not remember ever before having cared what a junior thought of him.  

The lighter was only twenty feet ahead of them now and slowing as it made way for another lighter crossing its bow, which was laden with casks of raw sugar from a schooner moored fifty yards away. The ship was riding high now with its load almost gone, its huge canvases furled, spars bare and circling gently as it rocked.  

The police boat plunged forward and to port as the other lighter crossed to starboard. The first man leapt aboard, then the second, pistols drawn.  

Phillips was the one case Durban had not closed, and it had remained, even in his last notes, a still-bleeding wound in his mind. Monk had read every page since he had inherited them from Durban, along with the job. The facts were there, dates, times, people questioned, answers, conclusions, resolutions as to what to pursue next. But through all the words, the letters, sprawled and jagged, burned the emotion. There was an anger far deeper than the mere frustration of failure, or the injured pride at being outwitted. There was a deep, scalding fury at the suffering of children, and a pity for all the victims of Phillips's trade. And whether Monk wanted it to or not, it scarred him too. He thought about it when the day was ended and he was at home. It invaded the peace of mealtimes. It intruded into his conversations with his wife, Hester. Very little else had ever done that.  

He sat rigid in the stern of the boat now, aching to join the men on the lighter. Where were they? Why had they not reappeared with Phillips?  

Then he understood-they were on the wrong side. Phillips had judged it exactly. Knowing they would have to pass to port to avoid ramming the other lighter, he had gone to starboard and jumped again. It was risky, but he had nothing to lose. When they caught him he would be tried, and there could be only one verdict. Three Sundays later, he would be hanged.  

"Get the men back!" he shouted, half rising from the seat. "He's gone to starboard! On the other lighter!"  

They must have realized it too. Orme took the other oar, unshipped it, and began to pull hard to bring the boat astern of the first lighter.  

The two men returned, leaping down, sending the boat rocking violently. This was no time to change places with Orme. The other lighter was already twenty yards away and heading towards the dock. If Phillips made it before they caught him he would disappear among the boxes and bales, the tea chests, rum and sugar casks, the piles of timber, horn, hides, and pottery that crowded the quayside.  

Monk's body was rigid, the wind blowing in his face sharp with the smells of salt and fish on the outgoing tide. Catching Phillips was the one thing he could still do for Durban. It would justify the trust Durban had placed in him after knowing him only a few weeks. They had shared nothing of daily life and routine, only one case of a horror almost beyond imagination.  

The lighter ahead passed out of sight for a few moments, hidden by the stern of a five-masted schooner. Monk watched intently. It seemed to take far too long to reappear. Was Phillips catching a loose rope, calling out for help from the stevedores, anything to board the ship? If so, Monk would have to go back to the station at Wapping and get more men. Anything could happen in that time.  

Orme must have seen the possibility too. He hurled his weight behind his oar, shouting at the other men. The boat leapt forward and the lighter appeared again, still comfortably ahead of them. Monk swiveled to stare at the hull of the schooner, but there was no one on the ropes over its sides. The stevedores on the deck were still bent-backed, hauling casks up out of the hold.  

Relief swept over Monk as they closed on the lighter. Another minute or two and they would have Phillips. The long chase would be over. With him in custody it would only be a matter of waiting for the law to take its course.  

The police boat came alongside the lighter. Again two armed men boarded, and came back moments later, bleak-faced and shaking their heads. This time Monk swore. Phillips had not gone up the sides onto the schooner, he was certain of that. No matter how agile, a man could not climb the ropes swiftly enough in the few minutes he had been out of sight. No lighter had passed them going to the north bank. It could only have been to the south.  

Angry, rowing with tight-knotted shoulders, the men sent the boat straight around the stern of the schooner into the wash of a stream of barges going upriver. They bucked and veered, slapping hard down into the water and sending up spray. Monk clung on to the sides, snarling between his teeth as he saw another lighter going south to Rotherhithe.  

Orme saw it at the same moment, and gave the order.  

They wove through the traffic. A ferry crossed swiftly in front of them, passengers crouched against the wind; a pleasure boat sent snatches of music into the air. This time the lighter made it to the dockside only twenty yards ahead of them, and they saw Phillips's agile figure, hair and coattails flying, jump from the stern as they passed the East Lane Stairs. He landed on the lowest step, which was slimed over from the tide. He teetered for a moment, arms wheeling, and then fell sideways, hard against the stone wall green with weed. It must have hurt, but he knew the police boat was not far behind him, and fear must have spurred him to scramble to his hands and knees and clamber upwards. It was a maneuver utterly without dignity, and a couple of lightermen jeered at him, but it was extremely rapid. By the time the police boat jarred against the stone, Phillips was at the top on the dry surface. He sprinted towards the Fore and Aft Dock with its crates of pottery from Spain, dumped haphazardly amid dark brown barrels and lighter piles of unfinished timber. The stench of hides was thick in the air, mixed with the sickening sweetness of raw sugar and the heady aroma of spices. Beyond that was the Bermondsey Road, and a whole network of streets and alleys, doss-houses, pawnshops, chandleries, taverns, and brothels.  

Monk hesitated only a moment, fearing wrenched ankles, the howls of laughter from the dockers and lightermen if he actually fell into the river, and how idiotic he would feel if Phillips escaped because his own men had had to stop to fish him out. There was no time for such weighing and judging. He stood up, felt the boat pitch sideways, and launched himself towards the steps.  

He landed awkwardly. His hands hit stone and weed, but his one goal kept him going. He slipped on to one knee, cracking it hard on the ledge of the next rise. Pain shot through him, but no numbness to prevent him from straightening up and climbing behind Phillips, almost as if he had meant to land as he did.  

He reached the top of the steps and saw Phillips thirty feet ahead, running towards a stack of dark, wooden barrels and the winch beyond it. The lumpers unloading more from a lighter below took no notice at all. Some of them were bare-chested in the sun, skin glistening with sweat.  

Monk ran across the open space. Then he hesitated when he reached the barrels, knowing Phillips could be just behind them, at best with a length of wood or pipe, at worst a blade. Instead he swung around and went along the length of the stack and around the farther side.  

Phillips must have counted on exactly that. He was climbing the long barrier of a pile of bales, going up it as an able seaman might climb a spar, hand over hand, easily. He looked back once, his mouth pulled wide in a sneer, then heaved himself over the top and stopped just for an instant before dropping down the far side.   Monk had no choice but to follow, or lose him. Phillips might leave his wretched boat, find some hovel on the bank for a while, then reappear in half a year, and in the meantime God knew how many more boys would suffer, or even be killed.  

Monk shinned awkwardly up the bales, more slowly than Phillips, and reached the top with relief. He crawled over to the far edge and looked down. It was a long drop, perhaps fifteen feet. Phillips was in the distance, making for more mounds of cargo, casks of wine, cases of spice or tobacco.  

Monk was not going to risk the jump. A broken ankle would lose him Phillips altogether. Instead he lowered himself, clung for a moment by his hands, then let go and fell the rest of the way. He turned and sprinted, reaching the casks of wine just as Phillips bolted across an open patch of stone towards the shadowed overhang of a cargo ship moored close up to the wharf. Its ropes were trailing, a crane beside her, a load of timber being lowered as they watched.  

A horse-drawn wagon moved closer, wheels rumbling on the uneven stone. A gang of lumpers was walking towards the crane. A couple of idlers argued over what looked like a piece of paper. Everywhere there was noise: men shouting, the cry of gulls, the clang of chains, the creak of wood, the constant slap of river water against the stone. There was the incessant movement of the sun reflected on the water, sharp and glittering. The huge moored ships rose and fell. Men in grays and browns toiled at a score of tasks. Smells filled the air: river mud thick and sour, the harsh cleanness of salt, the sickly sweetness of raw sugar, the stench of hides and fish and ships' bilges, and, a few yards ahead, the bewitching perfume of spices.  

Monk took a chance. Phillips wouldn't try for the ship; he would be too exposed as he went up the side, like a black fly on a brown wall. He would head the other way, and disappear into the alleys.  

Or would he bluff? Double bluff?  

Orme was on Monk's heels.  

Monk headed towards the alley entrance between the warehouses. Orme drew in a breath, and then followed him. The third policeman stayed on the quayside. He had done this sort of thing often enough to know men could double back. He would be waiting.  

The alley, which was no more than six feet wide, went down steps, then twisted one way, then the other. The stink of urine was sharp in Monk's nose. There was a chandler's shop to the right, its narrow doorway surrounded by coils of rope, ships' lanterns, wooden cleats, and a bucket full of hard-bristle brushes.  

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Anne Perry is the bestselling author of two acclaimed series set in Victorian England: the William Monk novels, including Blind Justice and A Sunless Sea, the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels, including Death on Blackheath and Midnight at Marble Arch. She is also the author of a series of five World War I novels, as well as eleven holiday novels, most recently A New York Christmas, and a historical novel, The Sheen on the Silk, set in the Ottoman Empire. Anne Perry lives in Scotland and Los Angeles.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Portmahomack, Ross-shire, U.K
Date of Birth:
October 28, 1938
Place of Birth:
Blackheath, London England
Website:
http://www.anneperry.net

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Execution Dock (William Monk Series #16) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
Purrkz More than 1 year ago
The long-awaited 16th installment of Anne Perry's intriguing William Monk series, "Executioner's Dock," amply demonstrates why the series is so popular. Perry has moved up to my elite list -- authors whose books I buy in hardcover -- and I kick myself because I never read any of her books until two years ago. Monk, of the Thames River Police, and his indomitable wife Hester are hard-pressed to bring an elusive villain to justice. Of all the "baddies" in previous episodes, this one is among the worst. Monk's mudlark helper Scuff is in jeopardy and the reader feels the panic Hester and Monk experience as they plan the rescue. Fortunately, they have help from the complicated barrister Oliver Rathbone, the ratcatcher Sutton and his dog, and the group teams up for a page-turning denouement. This book does stand alone, but why not give yourself the enjoyment of the 15 previous books in the series? You will meet some of the most three-dimensional characters in mystery fiction, learn about life in London in the 1860s, go into well-described settings, and best of all, "see" Perry's characters in action as she uses body language details to let the reader view them in action. I can't think of any other contemporary writer who does this half as well, and it gives these Monk books a very cinematic feel. And when you finish these 16 books, then you can enjoy the 25-book Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1864, now the head of the Thames River Police, William Monk is anxious to arrest Jericho Phillips and see him hung. The odious Phillips is a child pornographer who kidnaps young boys and forces them to perform perverted deeds. He makes a lucrative business as a supplier of kids to his pedophile customers and takes photos of the young in sexual acts that he sells to the stores.

Monk apprehends the lowlife, who is on trial defended by the police chief¿s friend Sir Oliver Rathbone at the bequest of his father-in-law; who insists everyone deserves a good lawyer. Oliver tears into the prosecution¿s airtight case leading to the defendant walking away free and Mon¿s reputation sunk into the sift on the bottom of the Thames. Monk, his wife Hester and others are more determined than ever to see Phillips hang, but rumors spread about their methods and judgment leading to condemnation of the chief and his police force as stalkers. Phillips has clients in high places who refuse to lose their pleasure connection, but when the pedophile take something Monk treasures all hell breaks loose.

It has been too long (2006 DARK ASSASSIN) since Anne Perry has written a Monk Victorian Era police procedural, but fans of the series will feel the wait was worth waiting. Readers are taken on a tour of the Thames just after Queen Victoria¿s beloved Consort prince Albert dies. Monk is as efficient as ever, but his efforts are purposely misinterpreted so that he seems more like Les Miserables' (by Hugo) malevolent stalking Police Detective Javert chasing Valjean over a stolen loaf of bread (note that novel occurs during the reign of Napoleon III so is the same age as the Monk thriller). Hester is a free thinking woman not afraid to act on her own so Monk has learned throughout the series to rely on her as she always comes through. Readers will enjoy this riveting historical mystery.

Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all the 'Monk' books and this is one of the best. I only wish there were more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a worthy addition to the Monk series. As usual, well written and holds one in an iron grip til the very end.
C2Quips More than 1 year ago
I like the fact that this story starts in the courtroom with the defeat of a case brought forth by the River Police (i.e., Monk). Perry has researched her history, with references to various squalid areas of London and the denizens making their living there. The plot is modern, but works in 19th century London. The characters are interesting and original (to the series). My only quibble is the angst that sometimes drips a little too heavily among the main characters--but I overlook it because it's still a great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
V
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dock is very similar looking to sorrel, however they have very disparate uses. Dock leaves are chewed and applied to soothe scratches. Howbeit, sorrel is used in traveling herbs to provide extra strength. Sorrel is found near twoleg nests, while dock is mainly found in the forest.<p> Question 5]] This leafy plant is hard to find in the wild, but common near twoleg nests. This herb is the best remedy for greencough.
Dieverdog More than 1 year ago
Another great book from Anne Perry - I love her William Monk series. I didn't think I'd like it as much now that Monk is working on the River Police, but she's keeping it fresh and interesting and the characters keep evolving and coming up on new challenges. I like that Hester and Monk have taken on the friendship with with the river rat/urchin, it adds a nice element to the story. I highly recommend this one from Perry - especially if you enjoy the William Monk/Hester series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What more can I add, enjoy all Anne Perry's Monk series.
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Used for sore pads and small cuts.
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