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by Anne Perry, read by Ralph Lister
Brilliance Audio, August 2011
Unabridged pages
ISBN: 1423372514

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

William Monk has been put in charge of the river police in London. When a small-time criminal is killed, he, of course, begins to investigate. He and his wife Hester have adopted a young boy who had been a "river rat," working on a boat providing entertainment to well-heeled men. The murdered man had operated the river boat. As Monk follows the clues found on the river banks, he learns what sort of entertainment these boys performed. In many ways Monk and Hester believe that whoever killed this petty criminal has done the world a favor. And when the clues begin to lead to a very troublesome place, they question whether they even want to know who the man behind the river boat was.

This book is filled with the usual angst and pain that Anne Perry's books contain. The mood is somber. The listener understands that things will not turn out well even though the murderer will be brought to justice. It is well-written and well-read, but rather depressing to listen to.

The characters are familiar to those who have been reading Anne Perry. This is the seventeenth in the Monk series. Readers will remember that he has complete amnesia about his early years. In the first book in the series, THE FACE OF A STRANGER, he wakes up from an accident with no recollection of his past. He is a policeman, however, and an extremely dedicated and ethical one. In all the books Monk does the right thing even though it could hurt friends and colleagues. His wife Hester is equally as unbending. She was a nurse in the Crimean War and while she was away her father died. She has never forgotten that pain. She is an equal partner to Monk in his policing.

The time period, sometime in the 1860's, is very well portrayed. We see a vibrant and wealthy England with respectable and upright leaders, propped up, we suspect, by a poor and impoverished working class. The wealthy make a great show of their honor, which makes the activities that took placer on the river boat so shocking to Monk and Hester.

The reader, Ralph Lister, is outstanding and truly brings the book to life. He is able to create many different characters with a small change in his voice. He made the story and the players absolutely vivid. He is a U.K. trained actor and this certainly shines through.

Not for the weak of heart and not for those looking for light entertainment, this novel demands much of the listener. It tells us of an honest man caught in a terrible dilemma who has a choice to make between friendship and what is right.

Sally Fellows is a retired history teacher with an MA in history and an avid reader of mysteries.

Reviewed by Sally A. Fellows, November 2011

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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