Dark Assassin

Written by Anne Perry
Review by Mary Sharratt

While on boat patrol with the Thames River Police, Inspector William Monk watches helplessly as Mary Havilland falls to her death off Waterloo Bridge, dragging her fiancé with her. Was this suicide – or murder, in which the victim took her killer into the river with her? Investigating the incident, Monk and his wife Hester discover that Mary’s father was an engineer at the Argyll Construction Company and died in mysterious circumstances two months earlier. Mary was convinced her father was murdered because he knew too much about a major disaster about to happen in the tunnels where London’s desperately needed new sewer system is being built. Her fiancé, Toby Argyll, was the brother of the construction company’s owner. William and Hester Monk race against time to uncover the sinister forces connecting the three deaths and to hopefully prevent a catastrophe in the tunnel which could kill thousands.

This eighth book (fifteenth in the USA) in the William Monk Victorian Mystery series can be read as a stand-alone novel. Atmospheric and elegantly written, the story probes the seamy underside of Victorian London, taking the reader on a tour of rat-infested tunnels and sewers, and exploring themes of corruption and family betrayal that are as relevant today as they were in the period. The characters are wonderfully nuanced and Perry has a keen ear for dialect. In places, though, I found the plot slow-moving and the deus ex machina ending seemed a contrivance that a writer of Perry’s talent could have easily done without.