The Shifting Tide
The fourteenth installment in Perry’s William Monk series is, once again, set in Victorian London – full of filth and disease, scoundrels and the worst dregs that London can produce. At the same time, Perry puts a mirror up to the goodness, the decency, the willingness of human beings to sacrifice for one another inherent in every culture at any point in history.
Monk is hired by a shipping magnate to investigate the whereabouts of his stolen shipment of ivory. For the first time in his life, Monk finds himself struggling to fit into the picaresque life of the docks. Each and every one of the figures that inhabit that world takes on a special light and life of their own. Meanwhile, Hester continues her efforts to tend to and heal the women of the streets at her clinic. She, together with beloved friends, desperately tries to raise money to keep the clinic open and running to care for those unloved and uncared for.
And then the life of the docks and the life of the clinic conjoin in perhaps the most catastrophic way imaginable. Monk, reduced to his most basic instincts, fights for the life of the difficult, upstart, valiant woman he has married while Hester struggles to stay alive.
This is by far my favorite in the Monk series. Perry leads us on a merry chase in one direction, just to rein us in halfway through the book to lead us to a wholly different place. Full of the flavor of the times, with her characteristic penchant for street language and illuminating the ways of the vapid aristocracy, this novel is a must read for Perry fans.