Genres: Historical Romance, Romantic Suspense
Published by Ballantine Books
Released on September 15, 2015
Twenty-one books in and this series of books has yet to fail me. Undoubtedly, this particular installment had about it the air of a transition book setting up the next turn in the story arc even while it delivered on another mystery with political, social, and ethical ramifications that hits very close to home.
Should they be read in order? Short answer, yes! The author has written a series of books that not only offer powerful and intriguing mysteries, but she also introduced three key players: the detective, the lady associate, and the barrister. They are developed over the series and there are various long building series story arcs that move through several books while along the way other strong secondary characters are introduced and stay with the story.
This story opens with Monk pursuing a case of arm’s smuggling for his work with the River Police while Hester has taken up a temporary post at the Greenwich Hospital in substitution for her old army nurse friend who is ill. Hester is a great addition to the team of nurses there because most of the patients are injured or ill military and having been a combat nurse in the Crimea, she knows how to treat battle wounds and deal with soldiers and sailors. Scuff has decided that he would like to follow in Hester’s footsteps and go into medicine, but as much as he has learned about Monk and Hester’s level of society, he fears that a former river rat and orphan might not be good enough.
Shortly after Hester starts her nightshift at the hospital, she is embroiled in a situation that leads to her kidnapping and her real fear that once her usefulness becomes unnecessary that she will be hushed permanently.
Monk is busy with his smuggling case which soon becomes personal to everyone at the precinct when they suffer a loss due to a betrayal. Then he discovers that his wife is missing along with a handful of children and a recent patient with a dire illness. With his wife gone missing, he is prepared to do what it takes to get his beloved wife back. Scuff refuses to be left out along with a few others who will do anything for Hester.
Oliver returns from a journey to Scotland to find Monk and Hester in the forefront of the news. Oliver is still disbarred, but the prosecuting attorney comes to him to act as his assistant for this huge controversial case that on Hester’s testimony. Oliver is reluctant because he can see that this case has the potential for huge loss, but the prosecutor is overly confident and Oliver worries about Hester and Monk being involved so he agrees. He can’t help it and is compelled to visit the lady of his secret affections to lay the case out and get her opinion as an excuse to spend time with her. If only she were completely free… But he needs to focus on the case and make sure a wicked man receives his just sentence.
This story had quite a lot going on. In fact, for a while, I wasn’t sure what the main mystery would be. This one isn’t as action-packed nor as intense in courtroom drama as others in the series. Those elements aren’t missing, but they are minimal. Also, the main mystery itself morphs from being an ethical dilemma to a kidnapping to a murder, but the murder wasn’t even the tough or most prominent part. The resolution of this mystery is not a crisp triumph of good over evil although justice is served for the most part. The ending is abrupt though very satisfying.
I feel like I should make mention here that there is a provoking plot thread that was begun and left hanging. I’ve seen the author do this before and have no worries that it will be addressed and even more likely grow into the main plot thread of a near future book in the series. In the meantime, it’s like a teaser sticking its tongue out at me. Haha!
Hester’s thread took a long time to get going while Monk’s jumped off to a fast and furious start. I found the complex and conflicting situation that Hester faced intriguing. The author is not afraid to address social, moral, or ethical issues of the day which in this case was the advancement of medical science that will save thousands of lives weighed against the methods used to forward discovery and break-throughs. She has a dilemma before her when it comes to the work of Hamilton Rand. He is doing an important work as he is pioneering the first successful blood transfusions and working to cure white blood disorders through that. Hester as a nurse involved in surgeries and wounds understood the need for what he was doing and applauded his advances, but her moral compass balked at seeing innocent and ignorant children used. Hester also had the challenge of nursing a man that she didn’t like and it was her fierce commitment to medicine and healing that kept her at it though she did let off a little spleen now and then.
[quote]”There is no indignity in being human,” she said, anger at the stupidity of it making her voice sharp. “We are all born naked and screaming. We all function essentially the same way. We all need each other from time to time. Nobody takes your dignity away. Either you keep it, or you give it up yourself by behaving like a fool.” She turned to Radnor. “You are no different from any other man. For goodness sake, stop making such a performance out of relieving yourself. Nobody cares!”
Loc 1659 Hester from Corridors of the Night[/quote]
The renewal of Monk’s amnesia playing a role in his life and work was actually welcome. That element of him stepping out on faith blindly forward has been missing in the last several books. Monk was a cold, ambitious, ruthless man before the accident that stole his memories as far as he can tell. He encounters a man who recognizes him, but of course Monk only has a twinge of familiarity. He doesn’t know if the man hates him because Monk wronged him or if Monk served justice on him as a police officer. Either way, he can tell that the man plans to take his revenge and Monk can only hope that innocents aren’t lost in the crossfire.
As always, the relationship of Monk and Hester that has grown deep over the years and now includes their adopted son is a special part of the story. I love that the author continues to follow this relationship that might have mellowed from its tempestuous beginnings, but is still strong and deep.
[quote]Hester was a fighter- one to fight first and think of the cost afterward. Not this time! Not if she wanted to lives as badly as Monk wanted her to. It was terrifying how much of his happiness was tied to her presence, her love, her belief in him. He wondered if he would even have had the will to carry on when he had no memory, no knowledge of who he was, if she had not believed he was worth fighting for. He had become a better man in order to live up to what she saw in him.
Loc 2068 Monk from Corridors of the Night[/quote]
In summary, I am back on familiar ground feeling sad that another installment is over and trying to wait patiently for the next one. Those who enjoy historical mystery or historical romantic suspense with gritty, intense mysteries set in an authentic Victorian London with a cast of well-drawn characters should take a look at these.
I received this book to read in exchange for an honest review.
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