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“Dark Assassin ”


written by Harriet Klausner on 23/01/2006

Dark Assassin
Anne Perry
Ballantine, Apr 2006, $25.95, 320 pp.
ISBN 0345469291

In 1864, recently promoted to Superintendent of the Thames River Police William Monk, accompanied by three direct report cops, is "Rowing random" on a patrol boat when he observes the young couple on Waterloo Bridge. She places her hands on his shoulders while he grabs her and both tumble into the river. Appalled and feeling helpless, especially after finding the two corpses, William wonders whether this was a double suicide, a murder-suicide, or a freak accident. The male was Toby Argyle and the woman Mary Havilland.

Monk and Sergeant Orme inform the next of kin, whose reactions vary. From there he begins to dig into the backgrounds of the two victims, even as he hates being in charge of the Thames River Police. His wife, Hester, provides his first break when she informs him that the families have feuded for about a year, ever since the rushed construction of a sewer complex to prevent another typhoid epidemic. As Monk switches his line of inquiries based on that information, he soon finds himself embroiled in a sewage building scandal that makes last year's "Great Stink" smell like fresh roses.

Monk is at his best in his fifteenth appearance, as he struggles to adjust to a job he does not want, but feels obligated to accept. The case is fascinating, especially the twists and turns as Monk with Hester and Orme, at first as his only allies until he begins to persuade his team he can handle the job. The use of cockney adds to the realism of a wonderful atmospheric historical police procedural.

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