Official Synopsis from Goodreads: Deep in London’s filthy, dangerous slums, Victorians transacted their most secret and shameful business. For a price, a man could procure whatever he wanted, but it happened now and then that the price he paid was his life. Now, in sunless Water Lane, respected solicitor Leighton Duff lies dead, kicked and beaten to death. Beside him lies the barely living body of his son, Rhys. The police cannot fathom these brutal assaults, until shrewd investigator William Monk uncovers a connection between them and a series of rapes and beatings of local prostitutes. Then it begins to seem shockingly clear that young Rhys Duff must have killed his own father. In a heartstopping courtroom drama, the Crown’s case against Rhys Duff, accused of patricide, begins its inexorable unfolding.
Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: approx 1860 London
My Copy Came From: I purchased a used paperback copy from a local library book sale.
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Review: A thrilling, can’t-put-it-down mystery with a shock ending! The Silent Cry by Anne Perry is the eighth book in the William Monk mystery series that focuses on private investigator William Monk, his friend nurse Hester Latterly, and their barrister friend Oliver Rathbone. In this entry, Rathbone takes a bit of a back seat and doesn’t appear too often until the courtroom ending. We mostly see Monk, Hester, and Monk’s policeman friend John Evan investigating this time around.
Monk is hired by a local sweatshop owner, Vida Hopgood, to investigate a string of recent escalating beatings and rapes of prostitutes in the area, and John Evan is investigating the beating death of wealthy Leighton Duff, who was found next to his barely alive son, Rhys. Hester is hired to help nurse Rhys back to health, and she develops a friendship with him, and he is unable to speak due to his injuries. Of course the rapes and the death of Leighton Duff are linked together, this is not a surprise.
“I am involved. I am the jury, whatever I decide. Omission is a judgment as well. To walk away, to pass on the other side, is as much a decision.”
I must mention a Content Warning for rape for this read. This is a book about rape, about how Victorian England investigated and prosecuted rape, about how they treated the victims and the rapists, how they treated prostitutes, and how prostitution was literally the only option many women had. Many of the attitudes haven’t really changed so much, although we’ve certainly come a long way, and the characters debate certain actions by the police and the law and I found it fascinating.
Because of the focus on rape, this particular entry felt far more graphic than the previous entries in the series. I’m hoping that this isn’t the route the series will be going.
I continue to be intrigued by the character of William Monk. Monk has lost his memory, after an accident that takes place before the first book in the series, The Face of a Stranger, and each book has him learning a bit more about his past actions and life. He’s not the nicest guy around, but he’s definitely the most dog-with-a-bone, determined fighter for justice. His attitude and his determination make him extremely compelling to read, and I enjoy reading him.
There was something in Vida Hopgood which he could like. He wished he could remember their previous association. It was a burden to him that he could not, but he knew from too many attempts to trace other memories, more important ones, that the harder he sought, the more elusive they were, the more distorted. It was a disadvantage he had learned to live with most of the time; only on occasion was he sharply brought to realize its dangers when someone hated him and he had no idea why. It was an unusual burden that did not afflict most people, not to know who your friends or enemies were.
I also enjoy reading about Hester Latterly, a nurse who was in Crimea with Florence Nightingale. Hester is strong and opinionated, and her and Monk butt heads fairly frequently as they are both strong-willed and while they each are spurred on by justice, they go about it in different ways, with Hester being more empathetic.
“I’ve been to the Crimea,” she said, disregarding his withdrawal. “I was there during the war. Of course, I saw mostly battlefields and hospitals, but there were occasions when I saw something of the people and the countryside. It is always extraordinary, almost indecent to me, how the flowers go on blooming and so many things seem exactly the same, even when the world is turning upside down with men killing and dying in their hundreds. You feel as if everything ought to stop, but of course it doesn’t.”
Now for the mystery! I was riveted by this mystery. I was drawn in, but I must say that I was more intrigued by Monk’s sleuthing than Hester’s nursing and even Evan’s policing. But each of the storylines move right along, and of course, link together in surprising ways.
The ending, while strong and compelling, came a bit too much out of nowhere. I didn’t catch any concrete evidence leading up to the reveal, and think Perry should’ve put one additional clue within the mystery to tie it all together. Hard to be more descriptive without spoiling the ending. Perry tends to have dramatic endings, and this one was one of her most dramatic! Even though I had guessed whodunnit much, much earlier, there was something else revealed that wasn’t as built up, and I think with one more additional clue worked into the story, the ending would’ve felt more believable.
Bottom Line: Strong and compelling!