William Monk, hero of a series of Victorian crime novels by Anne Perry, is a favorite of mine because he is an unusually complex fictional detective: proud, vulnerable, and painfully aware of his own flaws. His marriage to Hester, who tested her mettle nursing in the Crimea, has smoothed some of his rough edges. In Execution Dock, Monk arrests a child pornographer named Phillips who he believes has murdered a young boy, and then finds apprehending a criminal is not the same as convicting him.
Will the man go free and kill again because of Monk’s own carelessness? Is the man really a murderer at all? It doesn’t help Monk’s situation when Rathbone, another continuing character in the series—Hester’s former suitor—becomes Phillips’ criminal defense attorney. What rich patron has hired the brilliant Rathbone to defend a denizen of the gutter? And why did he take the case? All becomes clear in the course of this deftly plotted mystery. As always, Perry brings Victorian London vividly to life. Fans of the series will find this novel especially enjoyable, but new readers will have no difficulty immersing themselves in Monk’s world.