William Monk, head of the Thames Police Force, witnesses the explosion and sinking of a pleasure boat which results in the death of nearly 200 people. Almost immediately, as he and his men start their investigation, the case is removed from them and given to the regular land police. A man is accused, tried and found guilty, all on circumstantial evidence and with no motive given. The man’s sentence is stayed due to his illness, which also strikes Monk as questionable. With Hester’s help, Monk regains control of the investigation, with nearly fatal results.
Perry is such a fine writer. Her descriptions are wonderfully evocative as we begin with a tranquil scene on the Thames. She then immediately changes the entire mood and secures your involvement in the story with a terrible event. Perry takes us into the environment of every level of society; from the lowest to the highest, and makes each real and understandable.
The characters are each fully drawn and dimensional. In spite of this being the 20th book in the series, new readers are given a clear understanding of the characters, their backgrounds and their interrelationships. Long-time readers see how the characters have developed, grown—some literally—and how their lives have changed. We even have the introduction of a new, young character one hopes will remain in the series.
Although Monk is the protagonist, there is an excellent balance in the use of characters, drawing upon the strength of each, including Hester’s background as a nurse during the Crimean War, Rathbone as a former barrister and judge, Scruff as a former mudlark, and Crow as an unlicensed doctor. Ms. Perry’s voice is captivating. Her dialogue is natural and, occasionally, humorous. Determining the fate of Worm, an urchin and mudlark found by Scruff, himself a former mudlark who adopted himself to the Monks, is a charming interlude.
The plot is compelling. That Ms. Perry includes the trial into the final resolution of the mystery is something particularly interesting, demonstrating that the mystery isn’t solved until the guilty is brought to justice.
“Blood on the Water” is an excellent book with highs and lows, drama, excitement, and suspense. This is yet another wonderful book by Ms. Perry.
BLOOD ON THE WATER (Hist Mys-William Monk/Hester-London-Victorian) – VG+
Perry, Anne – 20th in series
Ballantine Book – 2014