Ballantine Books, 2017; 320 pages
In the course of his tenure with the Thames River Police, Commander William Monk has yet to see a more gruesome crime scene: a Hungarian warehouse owner lies in the middle of his blood-sodden office, pierced through the chest with a bayonet and eerily surrounded by seventeen candles, their wicks dipped in blood. Suspecting the murder may be rooted in ethnic prejudice, Monk turns to London’s Hungarian community in search of clues but finds his inquiries stymied by its wary citizens and a language he doesn’t speak. Only with the help of a local pharmacist acting as translator can Monk hope to penetrate this tightly knit enclave, even as more of its members fall victim to identical brutal murders. But whoever the killer, or killers, may be—a secret society practicing ritual sacrifice, a madman on a spree, a British native targeting foreigners—they are well hidden among the city’s ever-growing populace.
With the able assistance of his wife—former battlefield nurse Hester, who herself is dealing with a traumatized war veteran who may be tangled up in the murders—Monk must combat distrust, hostility, and threats from the very people he seeks to protect.
Number 23 in this popular series. I've read other books by Anne Perry, but this was my introduction to the William Monk novels. It definitely won't be my last. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read with a good blend of historical detail and suspense. A little dark, but not overwhelmingly so. And I really enjoyed getting to know Commander Monk, Hester and young Scruff, the orphan taken in by the Monks.
My only (slight) complaint is that the killer was a little too easy to spot, almost from the beginning — I would have been happier with just a bit more mystery. Still, this is one I'd recommend to anyone looking for a good historical detective tale, and I'm looking forward to reading some of the earlier books in the series.
(Note: I received my copy of this book from the publisher, free of charge, through Library Thing's Early Reviewer program. No other compensation was received, and no one tried to influence my opinion of the book.)
Qualifies for the following reading challenge: Historical Fiction Challenge.