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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.
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on July 4, 2004
Investigator William Monk is relieved to be offered a job, even one outside his normal sphere of operation in the large houses of Victorian England, as money is tight and bills must be paid.Clement Louvain, ship owner and importer of spices and ivory, hires Monk to find 14 tusks of ivory which were stolen from his ship when it was moored in the Thames, awaiting a berth at the Docks. Monks'wife Hester runs a shelter and hospital for sick and injured prostitutes with her friend Margaret, stocking it on a shoe string budget, so that when Louvain brings a sick woman to her, claiming that she is the cast-off mistress of a friend and paying Hester a handsome fee for her care, she doesn't hesitate to accept the woman as a patient. Meanwhile Monk manages to find the trail of the stolen ivory with the help of a street urchin, Scuff, and to return it to Louvain. Hester is horrified to find the unmistakeable signs of bubonic plague on the sick woman and realises that she must isolate herself and all the other occupants of the hospital, as much to keep them from infecting the general population as to keep the threat of mass hysteria at bay. She is aided in this task by the rat-catcher, Sutton who directs his friends to stand guard with pit bulls, trained to kill on command. Hester gets word to Monk of their predicament and in turn informs Durban the chief of the river police of the need to track down the source of the plague. Feeling sure that the plague was brought into the country by Louvain on his ship, Monk and Durban contrive to isolate the ship until their case is proven. The author brilliantly conveys the cutting winds and biting cold of the London docks in winter, so much so that I guarantee that you'll not feel warm till the end of the story.
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on May 22, 2004
William Monk usually investigates the crimes of the wealthy that inhabit some of the finest mansions in London. This time out Anne Perry takes Monk to the river and docks that is out of his comfort zone as an investigator. He has bills to pay and is happy to get any kind of work. Clement Louvain wants Monk to investigate the theft of a cargo of ivory from one of Louvain's schooners. .Louvain does not want the theft reported to the River Police. Monk's wife, Hester, runs a clinic for desperately ill women of the street who have no other place to go. Louvain brings an ill woman who came off of one of his ships to Hester. After the woman is found dead, Hester realizes that she had the Black Plague. The plague had wiped out half the population of England two centuries before. If anyone knew, mass panic who ensue; the clinic and its inhabitants would likely be burned down. The clinic must be locked down and no one must be allowed to escape from inside. Monk must answer the question of why Louvain would bring the woman to Hester.
Anne Perry writes both the Thomas Pitt series and the William Monk series. When I am reading one or the other series, it is always my favorite at the time. Anne Perry has an uncanny knack of painting the scenes of her stories so vividly that you are transported back in time. She captures the essence and the flavor of the time period.
This book had at first two seemingly different storylines: the stolen ivory and the plague. I found the scenes with the clinic: the difficulty in raising funds for a clinic for fallen women, the struggle in running it, the characters associated with it, and the dealing with the plague the more intriguing storyline. It was not until the storylines merged into one that I started to enjoy the story involving the shipyards. I think it was all a little too gritty for my taste. The relationship between Monk and Hester has evolved since the early books, and even later ones that involved their courtship. You always knew they were close and had a special bond, but this time you really felt it even though they had very few scenes together. Anyone who has never read the Monk series should go back and read them in order. It would be worth it because Anne Perry is an excellent writer who always has good, suspenseful plots.
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on April 29, 2004
It is 1863 in Victorian London and times are lean for private enquiry agent William Monk and his wife Hester who receives no money for working at the clinic in Portpool Lane that provides medical care to sick and injured prostitutes. Louvain, a powerful business man who makes a profit in shipping, hires Monk to recovery a shipment of ivory that was stolen off his shop while it was waiting to dock. One of the crew still on board was murdered and Monk intends to find out who the killer is and bring him to justice even though he won't get any additional fees for it.
The ivory must be found within a certain period of time or Louvain won't be unable to pay off a creditor who is also his rival. If that happens he won't be able to bid on a fast clipper ship that he wants to add to his fleet. While Monk makes contacts along the river to find out who received the ivory, Hester is battling a different kind of killer, one that hasn't been seen in Europe since the middle ages.
Anne Perry can always be counted on to write an exciting historical police procedural and THE SHIFTING TIDE is obvious proof of this assertion. Hester and Monk battle with more than a serial killer and that brings the focus of the tale as much on the nurse fighting a deadly disease as the hero trying to get an innocent man off death row. There is plenty of action in Ms Perry's latest thriller but it is the two special people who risk their lives for humanity that readers will care about.
Harriet Klausner
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on May 10, 2004
The title refers not only to the mystery Monk is working to solve on the Thames River, but also changes in the familiar characters we've come to know in the series. Ms. Perry gives us a much better look at what is in their hearts and minds.

Where, in the past, Monk and Hester's relationship seemed almost platonic, there is now warmth and we have no doubt as to their love for each other. Monk comes across as much more human and loses the chip on his shoulder he's carried throughout the series. Personally, I found him much more likeable.
The real evidence of Ms. Perry's growth is the insight she gives regarding Margaret Ballinger and, in particular, Sir Oliver. For example, in the past we were simply told what Rathbone felt; in Shifting Tides, his thoughts, fears, and hopes are laid bare for us to struggle through with him. An enjoyable portion of the book is given to the couple and their dialogue involving fundraising attempts at various society functions shows a sense of humor not often seen in Ms. Perry's writing.
Ms. Perry also gives us several entertaining secondary characters such as the shamelessly manipulative Mama Ballinger. You can almost hear Rathbone's sigh of relief when he escapes the sitting room. He has met his match in Mama B...and she knows it.
All in all, it is an excellent, satisfying read- get comfortable and enjoy.
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on May 12, 2004
I have shamelessly enjoyed every single Monk story that Ms. Perry has written. The Monk series has always been my favourite of her two long-running series, but this book is the best Monk story that I've read. The craftsmanship that Ms. Perry puts into each of her books is so very apparent in this one. She shows pure genius in her character and plot development. In this book we see Monk and his Hester working separately on what appears to be too separate catastrophic events, but as the story goes on, it is apparent that both are connected. Hester is fighting the battle of her life against a very real foe of disease in her clinic, and Monk is out on the River trying to solve a theft and trying to piece together what actually happened on the Maude Idris. We see some real growth in some of the regular characters, but we also meet some very strong minor characters in this book - for example - the cold and ruthless Clement Louvain; the very likeable Durban (a member of the infamous River police that Monk really feels an affinity for); and Sutton the Ratter - one of the best characters in the book. This book held me spellbound from beginning to end. The pace in the book is relentless, and when I finished it, it left me feeling strangely empty. I can't wait for another Monk book!
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on May 3, 2004
Anne Perry's latest historical thriller takes her struggling sleuth to the London docks. Back in the mid 18th century, London was a thriving port with barges, sailing ships and local water traffic all crowding the world's busiest river.
The docklands are their own world as detective Monk discovers when he's hired to locate elephant tusks stolen from a recent arrival from Africa. Shipping is a high-risk, high reward business where only the tough survive. And Monk may not be tough enough.
This time the hardy Thames watermen are facing a foe far more dangerous than any of them have ever met. When a young prostitute dies of the dreaded black plague, it's Monk's wife, Hester, who is faced with handling the crisis. And she turns out to be more than tough enough.
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on May 17, 2004
I thought this was one of the best in what I have always felt was the author's best series. The action in this book is non-stop, and the emotion, which has always been a high point in this series, is palpable. I also feel, like another reviewer, that this was the best portrayal of the Hester/Monk relationship, and I really liked the payoff for the Rathbone character. The way this book tied up loose ends and resolved stories, it could actually be a fitting end for this series, although I certainly hope the author has many more Monk books in her.
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on May 10, 2004
I have read all the Monk and Pitt books as well as the first
installment of her new series about a WW I chaplain. They are all absorbing and I enjoy reading them. HOWEVER, every book I've read always leaves me with some nagging doubts about the plot and its resolution. Just as Dr. Watson takes the place of the reader and asks Sherlock Holmes the questions the reader wants answered, I feel that every book she has written needs one additional chapter to tie up the loose ends. I wonder why her editors have never suggested this to her.
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on July 18, 2004
After the disappointment of "No Graves Yet", this was a delight. I have read them all - the Pitts, the Monks and this was the best. I enjoy the Monk series more than the Pitt series because the Pitt books seem to have so much repetition and have a tendency to slug along. It is almost like they were written by two different authors. I look forward to more Monk.
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