William Monk is out on the Thames River with one of his men, Orme, when they witness the shocking explosion and sinking of the pleasure cruise ship Princess Mary. Almost two hundred people die, and this was no accident. The explosion happened in the bow of the ship, not the boiler room.
Monk has his River Police already investigating the crime when, the next morning, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, arrives to explain, in some embarrassment, that the case has been taken from the Thames River Police and given to him.
Monk and his men may be frustrated by how the Metropolitan Police, who don't know the river and its people, are running the investigation, but there's nothing they can do. A suspect, an Egyptian man name Habib Beshara, is arrested, tried, and convicted.
And then Monk discovers in the course of another investigation a critical piece of information that reveals that a critical eyewitness in the Beshara case can't have been where he said he was. He realize that not only is the guilty verdict against Beshara very weak, but the investigation was sloppy in ways that can't be entirely explained by the Metropolitans not knowing the river well.
And that's when things get very, very dangerous, for Monk, Hester, Oliver Rathbone, and their friends.
This is another solid entry in the long-running William Monk series. All our old friends are back. Monk is comfortable and confident in his role as head of the Thames River Police, Hester in hers as head of her clinic, and they have a solid partnership that they've worked hard for over the course of the series. This is one of the added benefits of a good mystery series, the long-term character development.
We see all our regulars struggling with the balance between the ideals they believe in, and the often much messier reality of human fallibility and corruption.
Not the place to start, but well worth the read if you're a follower of the series.
I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.