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Saturday 23 December 2023

‘Dark Assassin’ by Anne Perry

Published by Headline,
6 February 2006.
ISBN: 978-0-7553-2058-5 (HB)

This is the fifteenth tale about William Monk in Victorian London, and it is a fascinating one.  The deaths of a couple who fall into the Thames from Waterloo Bridge within sight of a team of river police led by Inspector Monk are seen as suicide, but Monk is not so sure.  He finds himself investigating a case with connections to an earlier suicide - that of the woman’s father.

The story is set during a bitterly cold winter in 1864 and the effects of that cold are almost physical manifestations to the reader, such is the skill of Anne Perry’s writing. 

The tale involves other aspects of Monk’s new work for the River police as well as the development of the concerns of his wife, Hester.  The digging of huge sewers under London to prevent the recurrence of the ’Great Stink’ when even the Houses of Parliament suffered the appalling odour from the river becomes part of Monk’s investigation.  Again, Anne Perry makes her reader really feel the horrors of that digging underground in cold and dangerous circumstances.  This tale is firmly positioned in the world of the poor with contrasts to the affluent worlds above clearly shown. 

I enjoyed the superb presentation of the Victorian world and the continuation of the story of the Monks.  Although this book certainly benefits from knowledge of the previous books it is so written that a newcomer to the series would also enjoy it.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer

Anne Perry (1938-2023) was born in Blackheath, London, England in October 1938.  Anne had various jobs but there was never anything she seriously wished to do except write. Her publishing career began with The Cater Street Hangman. Published in 1979, this was the first book in the series to feature the Victorian policeman Thomas Pitt and his well-born wife Charlotte. It was filmed and broadcast on ITV featuring a young Keely Hawes. Anne started a second series of detective novels with The Face of a Stranger. These are set about 35 years before and feature the private detective William Monk and volatile nurse Hester Latterly. She has also published a successful series based around World War One and the Reavley family.

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