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Dark Assassin: A Novel (William Monk Novels) Hardcover – March 28, 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews
Book 15 of 21 in the William Monk Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

William Monk faces special challenges in bestseller Perry's absorbing 15th novel to feature the Victorian policeman (after 2005's The Shifting Tide), as he must convince skeptical fellow officers of his competence to lead the corruption-ridden Thames River Police during a rampant crime wave. In a fogbound setting evocative of Conan Doyle, newly appointed Superintendent Monk and his river patrol watch helplessly as two young lovers plunge to their deaths from a bridge. Monk's exhaustive investigation, aided by his activist wife, Hester, soon reveals a deadly conflict between the two lovers' families over the hasty construction of a vast sewer complex built to prevent a recurrence of the "Great Stink" and typhoid epidemic of 1863. A riveting pursuit of an unknown assassin brings Monk in contact with the city's most destitute, one of several incidents highlighting the growing conflict between the abject poor and those whose houses have such luxuries as sewers and gas pipes. Some readers may have trouble with the cockney dialogue, but all will relish the last-minute twists that lead to a compelling resolution. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Since first making his appearance in Face of a Stranger (1990), William Monk has continued to hunt for the memory that vanished following a nearly fatal accident. By now, much of his background has fallen into place, but he still yearns for proof that he's become a better man. His new job, superintendent of the Thames River Police, brings fresh opportunity. On a routine river patrol, Monk and his men watch in horror as a man and a woman plunge off a bridge to their deaths. Was it an accident? Urged on by his beloved wife, Hester, Monk investigates, and discovers that the woman had a mission that made suicide unlikely; she was in the midst of proving that her father's recent death was murder. To close one case, Monk must solve the other, and his pursuit of the truth leads him into the dark, stinking world beneath the streets of Victorian London. A shaky premise notwithstanding, this fifteenth episode once again demonstrates Perry's artful mastery of the period details and social concerns of the times, and series fans will appreciate the fact that Monk's genuinely appealing combination of uncertainty and determination remains largely unchanged. Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Series: William Monk Novels
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (March 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345469291
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345469298
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #682,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It's true that this latest William Monk mystery novel is quite different from the previous ones in that instead of looking at one particular mystery plot from several different angles (one subplot that would've involved Monk's efforts, while another concentrated on Hester's and yet a third involved barrister Oliver Rathbone's contribution to the case), "Dark Assassin" is more of a "one-tone" mystery novel -- one sees things almost exclusively from Monk's point-of-view.

William Monk has a new job as a police inspector with the Thames River Police. It is position that he has accepted because of the job security that it offers and because the inspector that he's replacing, the deceased Inspector Durban, had recommended him for the job ("The Shifting Tide"). Monk, however, is finding it heavy going trying to fill the popular Durban's shoes, especially since he feels the guilt of having survived while Durban died, and because he feels as if the other policeman of the Thames River Police not only hold him accountable for having survived, but also question his competence. One evening, while on patrol, Monk and his team witness the questionable plunge onto the Thames by a young couple. Both die from the impact. However it remains unclear as to whether or not it was a suicide pact between the two, if one of them was trying to push the other off the bridge and was pulled along by the struggle, or if one was trying to end his/her life and the other was pulled along. Monk soon discovers that the dead woman was Mary Havilland, that her own father had committed suicide a few months before -- something that quite devastated Mary -- and that the man who feel off the bridge with her was her ex-fiance, Toby Argyll.
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Format: Hardcover
The death of Inspector Durban in The Shifting Tide leads William Monk to replace Durban with the Thames River Police as a debt of honor and to provide some much-needed income. As the book opens, Monk is shivering in the bow of a police boat during January as the boat slowly approaches Waterloo Bridge. Less than two hundred feet away, Monk spots a man and woman facing one another with passion . . . just before something terrible happens.

The unexpected event places Monk into an investigation that the Thames River Police would normally not pursue, much to the consternation of his new supervisor who is rightly concerned about a surge in river robberies. At the same time, Monk is having a hard time gaining control over his men and learning how to stop river crime.

As Monk pursues his investigation, he finds lots of loose ends that leave him dissatisfied. That, in turn, leads him to an uneasy alliance with his former friend and adversary, Superintendent Runcorn.

The loose ends all tie together into a trail that leads to the mad dash to create sewers to eliminate disease from London. Before the book ends, both Monk and Hester find themselves among the dank, dark underground rivers that crisscross London. You'll find as entertaining a crew of expert underground helpers as Charles Dickens ever produced for these adventures.

I was tempted to grade this as a five-star book, but I couldn't quite bring myself to do that after remembering how slowly the book develops after the initial scene. Certainly, from about the half-way point to the end, this is a five-star effort full of interesting plots, subplots and villains that you'll long remember.

I don't recall a book in this series that I've enjoyed more than the second half of Dark Assassin.

The unique nature of river crime promises more exciting stories to come in this fine series.
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By SDRTX on April 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
William Monk, now an inspector with the Thames River Police is on a routine patrol of the river when he watches helplessly as the bodies of a young man and woman fall from the Waterloo bridge. Even though Monk was an eyewitness, he has doubts about happened. Was the fall an accident, a deliberate push,or a struggle?

It's always a pleasure to read about Monk and his wife Hester. They are compelling protagonists and fully fleshed-out characters who have grown with each subsequent story. Anne Perry's plots rarely disappoint, and this one is no exception, but her real gift is the atmosphere and the sense of time and place that she evokes.
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Format: Hardcover
Dark Assassin is the latest in Anne Perry's series of novels featuring William Monk and Hester Latterly, now his wife. In this story, Monk has taken a job with the River Police. One night while out on the river with his men, he and his crew witness the deaths of a man and a woman off a bridge over the Thames-- what they cannot decide, however, is if they witnessed a murder, a suicide or an accident. The case affects Monk deeply as he is reluctant to allow the deaths to be ruled suicide if there is a possibility that another verdict can be made so the young woman, particularly, can be buried in hallowed ground. He becomes especially suspicious when he finds that the young woman's father supposedly committed suicide a few weeks before. To ivestigate the two deaths, he teams up with Inspector Runcorn of the London Police, who had been Monk's partner in Monk's former life.

Anne Perry excels at bringing Victorian England to life-- not just the romantic aspects, but the grittier reality of every day life. In this book she focuses on the building of the massive sewer tunnels beneath the city, and the life underground. Perry doesn't flinch at showing the seamier sides of life, and she takes great pains to constantly let us know how sheltered the middle class and above are from the living conditions of the people who labor to make their privileged lives possible.

So how does Hester fit into this story? She plunges right into it, as she, also, is disturbed at the idea of the young woman being wrongfully buried in unhallowed ground. It brings back memories of the suicide of her own father, many years before.
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