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On a patrol boat near Waterloo Bridge, police superintendent William Monk notices a young couple engaged in an intense discussion. Seconds later, the two plunge to their deaths in the icy waters of the Thames. Was it an accident, a suicide, or a murder? Ever the investigator, Monk learns that the woman, Mary Havilland, had planned to marry the fair-haired man who shared her fate. He also discovers that Mary’s father had recently died in a supposed suicide. But Mary’s friends share their own darks suspicions with Monk, who now faces the mysteries surrounding three deaths. Aided by his intrepid wife, Hester, Monk searches for answers. From luxurious drawing rooms where powerful men hatch their unscrupulous plots, to the sewers beneath the city where poor folk fight crippling poverty, Monk must connect the clues before death strikes again.
William Monk faces special challenges in bestseller Perry's absorbing 15th novel to feature the Victorian policeman (after 2005's The Shifting Tide), as he must convince skeptical fellow officers of his competence to lead the corruption-ridden Thames River Police during a rampant crime wave. In a fogbound setting evocative of Conan Doyle, newly appointed Superintendent Monk and his river patrol watch helplessly as two young lovers plunge to their deaths from a bridge. Monk's exhaustive investigation, aided by his activist wife, Hester, soon reveals a deadly conflict between the two lovers' families over the hasty construction of a vast sewer complex built to prevent a recurrence of the "Great Stink" and typhoid epidemic of 1863. A riveting pursuit of an unknown assassin brings Monk in contact with the city's most destitute, one of several incidents highlighting the growing conflict between the abject poor and those whose houses have such luxuries as sewers and gas pipes. Some readers may have trouble with the cockney dialogue, but all will relish the last-minute twists that lead to a compelling resolution.