Murder mysteries that take place in 19th and early 20th century England are some of my favorites, so when I saw this one available on NetGalley, I thought I’d give it a shot. I didn’t realize it is #23 in the William Monk series by Anne Perry, although I do recall having read one or two of the earlier entries, and have read Perry’s Thomas Pitt series.
There are Readers out there who, for a number of reasons, will absolutely not read a series out of order.
I am not one of them.
For me, a *good* series is successful often because of the meticulous world-building the author performs, but a *great* series is written in a way that you can dip in and out of the author’s world. That is what I found here, with Commander William Monk, his wife Hester, and “son” Will. Perry provides just enough detail about past history of the characters as is necessary for *this* story. She doesn’t give away plot lines of earlier stories, so I can go back and read those without knowing how they end. The plot is the key, the characters’ past is incidental.
Perry offers an interesting plot in Echo of Murder. Monk is called to investigate an horrific crime committed against a member of the Hungarian community. It is violent, the product of extreme rage. At the same time, Will (also known as Scuff), meets an old friend of Hester’s, a surgeon with whom she served in the Crimean War and who is now suffering from what today we would call a severe case of PTSD. As Monk conducts his investigation into the murder and moves deep into the Hungarian community, his path crosses with Will’s and Fitz, the Crimean surgeon, neatly braiding their stories together into a clever and neat climax.
Perry’s writing is top notch, as always. I did feel as though she used the xenophobia directed at the Hungarians as a bit of a soapbox regarding immigration, and I found the end to be rushed, but otherwise this is a solid entry into a much loved series that makes me want to go back and read the earlier Monk books. Recommended.