Title: An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry
Genre: Currently # 62 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Books, Literature & Fiction, British & Irish, Historical
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: To be released September 19, 2017
Source: Ballantine Books and NetGalley
Title and Cover: An Echo of Murder – Attractive cover creates slight hint of historical quality
Having come into An Echo of Murder: A William Monk Novel by well-established author Anne Perry, I knew I’d missed something important when there were references to Mr. Monk’s amnesia. This being the 23rd of the series, the back story of Monk’s amnesia was obviously the plot of a previous book. This installment gets bits and snatches of it and I was left wondering how in the world then did he ever get to be Commander of the Thames River Police.
In this offering, there is an appalling series of murders of London’s Hungarian citizens. Yes, it is an historical fiction novel set in London. Hester Monk, his wife, certainly his equal and perhaps then some, has a strong history with the Crimean War in which she attended to front line casualties as a nurse. The end of the war precipitated an influx of alien citizens to the area.
I enjoy Victorian London stories, and though this one was decidedly dark, definitely imparted the feel, the sights and smells of the historical city. It also addressed the animosity of long time citizens to new people, new ideas, and their sense of some loss.
I got the impression that many of the supporting characters had also been well fleshed in prior books. Commander Monk and Hester have taken in a homeless urchin, Scuff, who is now working at Crow’s medical clinic on his way to becoming a doctor. This entry fleshes out Scuff as he is growing and coming in to his own. If I got the connection with Crow (or his clinic), it’s been forgotten.
Enter Dr. Fitzherbert, an old war colleague of Hester, who has retired from practicing medicine, which is just as well, as he suffers big time from PTSD before anyone knew what it was. Hester is haunted by the last time she saw him on the battlefield, sure he was dead, and left to help those she thought better candidates for medical attention.
Really, the riddle here, for me being a first-time reader of both Anne Perry and her William Monk series, was the protagonist. Basically, he seemed to take a lesser role, head scratcher, showing up to each new murder, ineffective until in a flash of brilliance managed to solve the mystery. The plot is not a barn burner and trudges along well past the point at which you’ve figured out whodunit. Dialogue is very believable and even sympathetic especially Scuff to Hester when he shyly explains why he no longer wants to be called “Scuff,” definitely not a name to evoke medical confidence. Hester is a powerful and empathetic character and makes for a strong role model.
The point at which medicine has evolved during this period is discussed and viewed with equal amounts of advances in humane treatment (many gained through experience in the American Civil War) and throw backs to poultices and herbs. Descriptions of treatment definitely had the nerves tingling and I’m sure took some major research. The tension between the London and Hungarian communities is palpable and totally understandable following a horrific war.
Slow build-up to climax, arguments and theories repeated, but historical London and insights into the medical community keep the reader turning pages. I was offered this download by Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine Books and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for fans of historical fiction, mystery, thriller, or suspense.
Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars
The Author: Anne Perry is a pen name for Juliet Hulme, a British historical novelist. Her first novel was published using this name in 1979. Her works are varied and fall into several categories including historical murder mysteries and detective fiction. Her amnesiac character, investigator William Monk first appeared in 1990 in her novel The Face of a Stranger. She has two Victorian series set in London including the William Monk Novel series and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt Novels. Ms. Perry has also published six holiday novels. Since 2003, she has published 47 novels and several collections of short stories. Anne Perry lives in Scotland. ©2017 Virginia Williams