After reading all the "Thomas & Charlotte Pitt" Victorian London murder mysteries, this series, starring police inspector-turned-private detective William Monk (and set thirty years earlier), are quite different. Where most of us sympathize strongly with Pitt and his wife, and would like them is we were to meet them, Monk is another kettle of fish. He's angry, arrogant, superior, self-righteous, often cruel in his methods, occasionally violent, and generally distasteful. The fact that he's usually right, and that other investigators respect his professional brilliance doesn't make him any more likeable -- and they don't.. When he was forced to resign from the police, it was largely his own fault for having alienated so many people. Anyway, Monk is own his own now, dependent on Lady Callandra to underwrite his career when clients are scarce, and frequently teamed in his cases with Hester Latterley, Crimean nurse (also rather arrogant on occasion), and with Oliver Rathbone, a highly gifted defense attorney (. . . and also rather arrogant on occasion). This case concerns the murder of Prudence Barrymore, another Crimean nurse, whose body was found stuffed down the laundry chute in the London hospital where she was employed. Prudence's greatest desire her entire life was to become a doctor -- a totally impossible ambition for any woman in 1858, no matter how brilliant. That gender inequality is one of Perry's social themes this time out -- another being the complete lack of professionalism among nurses of the day, who were ignorant, low-born, and frequently drunk, and who were little more than hospital charwomen. Prudence worked closely with a highly regarded surgeon, who may be the murderer -- or maybe not. The third theme is abortion rights, about which Perry never quite clarifies her personal position: Is there a difference between free abortions performed in the back of butcher shops for the impoverished, exhausted mother with far more children than she can feed, and abortions for convenience for the wealthy, performed by skilled surgeons and for which they pay high prices? In any case, it's a generally well-written novel with several subplots, romantic and otherwise, and Hester and Rathbone get largely equal billing.