William Monk is enlisted to help in the search for Genevieve Stonefield's husband Angus, missing presumed murdered. A historical crime novel from the author of SINS OF THE WOLF and THE TWISTED ROOT.
Angus Stonefield disappears on a visit to his vicious and violent twin brother in the slums and Angus' lovely wife is convinced that this time Caleb - the twin - has murdered her husband. While investigating, Monk runs into Hester Latterly setting up a make-shift hospital to deal with a serious outbreak of typhoid in the filthy and overcrowded slums.
Hester and Monk's relationship remains tensely ambivalent and Monk's bitter interior monologues become tediously repetitious. This is a heavily padded novel with an overworked plot device but Perry's fans will enjoy her gritty depiction of hopeless poverty and stark class divisions.
One of Perry's best. Gripping, psychologically revealing, and sociocritical. Perry is as good as Dickens when she exposes grievances. In one scene she reveals that the lower classes of the time owned just one pot: for cooking, doing the laundry, washing the baby and as nightpot...Hester's counteroffensive against the libellous lady will make you shake with laughter - and wince...
Perry's writing style is unobtrusive, somewhat given to unclear pronouns, but generally solid.
I found it interesting that nothing seemed to differ between this setting, in 1859, and the setting of the author's Pitt novels, in the late 19th century, except that the Pitts have telephones. I wonder how authentic that is. I found no obvious errors, except that, in keeping with the rest of Perry's books, the women seem very independent for the period.
Perry has come up with what must be one of the best characterization hooks ever invented. William Monk suffers from amnesia. He has reason to think he was an unpleasant person, a person capable of wronging others, in the past. But... he can never know what, exactly, he did. I would have liked to see a few more original touches in his *current* character, but it's still a fascinating idea.
The plot of Cain his Brother is outstanding. A minor consistency error here and there does not detract from its drama. A man has murdered his twin brother -- or has he? I thought I had the secret figured out several times, but I was wrong. But when the answer was revealed, it made perfect sense. Perry sometimes has surprise twists out of nowhere at the end of her books, but this time she got it exactly right. I remained unclear on one thing --Ravenstone's motivation -- but that may be my oversight.
This is a very entertaining historical mystery which I strongly recommend.