William Monk knows Victorian London's streets like the back of his hand, but the river Thames and its teeming docks where clipper ships unload their fabulous cargoes, is unknown territory. But his desperate need for work persuades him to undertake an investigation involving the theft of a cargo of ivory. His mysterious client is Clement Louvain who seems to have a multitude of secrets. Monk wonders why he didn't simply report the theft to the River Police and why he doesn't want a crew member's death investigated. Most mysterious of all, he leaves a desperately ill woman at Hester Monk's clinic, and soon everyone there is quarantined as her nightmarish sickness spreads.
This is a story with a very interesting plot and all the characters are fully developed. Hester and her clinic, where she cares for poor women of the street, reminded me of one of my favorite PBS series that starred Jemma Redgrave as Doctor Eleanor Bramwell.
I've read several books by Anne Perry recently, and this is my favorite in the Monk series. I am quite pleased with the illustration that I found to accompany the review. I think it is evocative of the sinister mood of this story. I found it in a book about clipper ships. Using a black Pitt pen, I extended the lines of the sails and ropes to lead the viewer's eye completely off the page. Angling the picture seemed to be in keeping with how off-balance the main characters felt as they were manipulated by the antagonist. I tried to emulate an alphabet from an exemplar that I got from Alan Blackman many years ago. I believe it can be found in the book "Sixty Alphabets" published by Thames and Hudson. I wrote it with black gouache, using a #4 Mitchell nib.