A Sunless Sea

Written by Anne Perry
Review by Ann Chamberlin

Early on a November morning in 1864, while rowing from his duties on the Thames, William Monk of the River Police hears screams. A woman is discovered, brutally murdered. Monk and his usual cast of assistants, wife Hester and barrister Sir Oliver Rathbone, investigate a trail that leads them to the suicide of a prominent doctor several months earlier, to the upper levels of society and farthest reaches of empire in the Opium Wars. Will an innocent person hang to keep the image of imperial profits alive?

This is the eighteenth title in the Monk series. No previous book need be read, Perry is so skillful at bringing you up to speed — rip-roaring speed. How does she do it? And the wonderful Perry mix of good and bad in every character. The invention of hollow needles for the injection of opium is merely one detail interesting beyond the plot itself. The only thing I missed throughout the book was a description of the murdered woman’s lodgings near the beginning. Monk would certainly have learned things introduced only later; their lack earlier was noticeable, a demerit on his skills.