This mystery is set in 1864 London, when homeless children combed the banks and mudflats of the Thames for whatever they could find and were prey to every kind of danger. Inspector William Monk and his wife, Hester, have taken in such a boy after rescuing him from the hands of one Jericho Phillips. Phillips is now dead, but the abuse of the children hasn’t stopped, and Monk is determined to discover who was funding Phillips and is behind the activities still taking place on another boat moored further up the river. When the body of a small-time crook is found washed up on the bank at Mortlake, strangled with a silk scarf whose owner could only have been of the aristocracy, Monk sets out to solve the mystery.
After taking some time to sort out the characters and who was related to whom, I found this a book I couldn’t put down. I was soon caught up in it and found myself wanting Monk to succeed, to stop the terrible abuse of the children and bring the perpetrators responsible for it to justice, whoever and however well-born or connected they may be. This is a dark story, well told, but not for the squeamish.