Revenge in a Cold River

Written by Anne Perry
Review by Vicki Kondelik

Revenge in a Cold River is the 22nd in Anne Perry’s mystery series set in 1860s London, featuring Commander William Monk of the Thames River Police.  Monk had lost his memory in a carriage accident years ago.  Customs officer McNab has a grudge against Monk because of events which Monk cannot remember.  When two prisoners escape from Customs, one is killed and the other gets away, but the officer pursuing him drowns while fighting with Monk in the river.  McNab tries to make it look as if Monk killed the man deliberately.  Monk knows he’s being framed, but he needs to discover the reason McNab hates him in order to clear his name.  He finds out that the two prisoners may have been involved in a conspiracy to rob wealthy merchant Aaron Clive, who made his fortune in the California gold rush.  Clive’s wife asks for Monk’s help in discovering what happened to her first husband, who was declared dead in a gunfight in California, but whose body was never found.  As he investigates, some tantalizing memories return to Monk, and he realizes that he might have been in California at the time.  Will he find the truth before McNab has him hanged for murder?

As always with this series, the character development of Monk, his wife Hester, and his friend, lawyer Oliver Rathbone, are as important as the mystery itself, but the mystery is a very suspenseful one.  Perry’s descriptions of life on the Thames – its sights, sounds, and smells –draw the reader in and make the river as important a character as any of the people.  Victorian London comes to life, and the characters are so engaging you will want to read more of the series.  It’s probably best to start with the first, Face of a Stranger.