RogerBW's Blog

The Sins of the Wolf, Anne Perry 18 May 2019

1994 mystery, fifth in Perry's William Monk series (Victorian investigation). Hester Latterly takes a job escorting an elderly lady by the overnight train from Edinburgh to London, making sure she takes her medicine on time. In the morning, her charge is dead, and soon enough Hester is charged with her murder.

These books have often been a bit on the slow side, but this was the one that was too slow for me. Once Hester discovers in her own luggage a valuable and recognisable piece of jewellery belonging to the old woman, it is entirely obvious from diegetic evidence not only what is going on (someone has set Hester up to look like a thief and murderess) but why (in order to prevent the woman from telling whatever she was going to tell her married daughter whom she was visiting in London). But that's a small fraction of the way through the book, and the supposedly intelligent Latterly, Monk and Rathbone flail about for altogether too long completely failing even to think of either part of the solution.

I like the characters, but they've all dealt with murder before, so they come off as stupid and unthinking by taking so long even to consider what might have been going on. And of course there are more courtroom theatrics, which I find dull even when they're authentic, which Perry's aren't. Hester is in prison for much of the book, meaning that we don't get her approach to investigation, which is usually the most enjoyable part.

The setting of Edinburgh feels well-observed, but this is an author who can write

they could find a hansom to take them from Tottenham Court Road west across the city towards the Inns of Court and Vere Street, where Oliver Rathbone had his office

although the Inns of Court are distinctly east from Tottenham Court Road; the chambers have previously been described as "Vere Street, just off Lincoln's Inn Fields". I was willing to countenance a made-up street, though there seems no particularly good reason to have done it even in 1994 when research was harder, but an error of this sort suggests not only sloppy writing but sloppy proofing too. If the book had been more engaging I might not even have noticed, but alas it really wasn't.

Followed by Cain His Brother, but this one has quite put me off the series.

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Previous in series: A Sudden, Fearful Death | Series: William Monk

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