Top positive review
3 of 3 people found this helpful
compelling and memorable
on June 10, 2004
Gather your cats/dogs/children and spouse/significant other, and firmly let them know that for the next 3 to 5 hours, YOU ARE NOT TO BE DISTURBED. And then, unplug the 'phone, pour yourself a thimble full of good port, make for your comfy chair and make your comfortable. For Anne Perry has written another gem that you simply cannot miss!! True, where the mystery subplot is concerned, things may be a little lacking; however if you look at the novel as an examination of human nature, at the unexpected strengths and hidden frailities of the characters involved, "The Shifting Tide" then becomes the compelling must read novel that it rightly is, whether or not you are a mystery buff.
William Monk has been hired by shipping magnate Clement Louvain to recover a shipment of ivory tusks stolen from his schooner, the Maude Idris. Normally, Monk would stay away from a case in which he is at such a disadvantage (Monk may know the streets of London very well, but he knows next to nothing about the river, the docks or the wharfs), but money is low and the need dire, so that in spite of his reservations, Monk agrees to take on the case. Louvain wants the stolen shipment found quickly and without the involvement of the River Police -- an especially tricky combination when murder is thrown into the mix, for the thieves had bashed in the head of one of the sailors keeping watch aboard the Maude Idris. Even stranger, Louvain is not at all interested in seeing that the murderer is apprehended and goes so far as to forbid Monk from wasting his time going down that road. Now why would he do this? Surely the murderer was one of the thieves? Monk senses that Louvain is keeping a great many things from him. A suspicion that grows when he learns that Louvain has taken a desperately ill woman (whom he claims is a friend's ex-mistress) to Hester's free clinic. But what neither Monk nor Hester anticipated was the nightmare that would soon unfold, and that would threaten their lives and happiness...
Mystery-wise, "The Shifting Tide" while intorguing was a little touch and go -- not too many cunning plot twists or sinister red herring culprits for Monk to track down. Even the usually tense courtroom scenes where Sir Oliver Rathbone is centerstage is absent; this time a healthy chunk of the novel is devoted to what Hester and her helpers go through as they battle illness, fatigue and their own inner demons. And yet what a suspenseful read "The Shifting Tide" was! The sense of time ticking away and of lives hanging in the balance was always there; and that together with the colourful and vivid characters that the authour created made this a very compelling read indeed. But most of all it was her portrayals of the unexpected inner strengths and nobility that the unlikeliest of characters exhibited, and her portrayal of human frailities, that made "The Shifing Tide" a memorable and worthwhile read.