Some crime authors seem to know a lot about murder, but Anne Perry is more familiar than others, as she was herself convicted of participating in the murder of her friend’s mother. In fact, she was played by Kate Winslet in the movie Heavenly Creatures inspired by the murder case.
What is the William Monk series about?
Created by English writer Anne Perry, William Monk is a policeman in the Victorian era. Brilliant and ambitious, but suffering from amnesia after a coach accident in 1856, this son of a fisherman has lost a lot and tried to keep this a secret to save his job.
After the accident he met Hester Latterly, a Crimean War nurse and they became close as she helps him in his work.
Soon, Monk is fired from the police force for insubordination. That’s why he became a private investigator, working with Hester and Sir Oliver Rathbone to solve crimes.
How to read the William Monk Books in Order?
Every book in the William Monk series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- The Face of a Stranger – His name is William Monk, and he is a London police detective. But the accident that felled him has left him with only half a life; his memory and his entire past have vanished. As he tries to hide the truth, Monk returns to work and is assigned to investigate the brutal murder of a Crimean War hero. Which makes Monk’s efforts doubly difficult, since he’s forgotten his professional skills along with everything else.
- A Dangerous Mourning – No breath of scandal has ever touched the aristocratic Moidore family–until Sir Basil’s beautiful widowed daughter is stabbed to death in her own bed. Inspector William Monk is ordered to investigate in a manner that will give the least possible pain to the influential family.
- Defend and Betray – After a brilliant military career, esteemed General Thaddeus Carlyon finally meets his death at an elegant London dinner party. His demise appears to be the result of a freak accident, but the general’s wife, readily confesses that she killed him. Investigator William Monk, nurse Hester Latterly, and brilliant Oliver Rathbone, counsel for the defense, work feverishly to break down the wall of silence raised by the accused and her husband’s proud family.
- A Sudden, Fearful Death – In a London hospital, Prudence Barrymore, a talented nurse who had once been one of Florence Nightingale’s angels of mercy in the Crimean War, meets sudden death by strangulation. Private inquiry agent William Monk is engaged to investigate this horrific crime. Greatly helped by his unconventional friend Hester Latterly and barrister Oliver Rathbone, Monk assembles a portrait of the remarkable woman. Yet he also discerns the shadow of a tragic evil that darkens every level of society, and a frightening glimmer of his own eclipsed past.
- The Sins of the Wolf – Nurse Hester Latterly finds herself well suited for the task: accompany Mrs. Mary Farraline, an elderly Scottish lady in delicate health, on a short train trip to London. Yet Hester’s simple job takes a grave turn when Mrs. Farraline dies during the night. And when a postmortem examination of the body reveals a lethal dose of medicine, Hester is charged with murder–punishable by execution. Detective William Monk must try to save Hester from the gallows.
- Cain His Brother – In his family life Angus Stonefield had been gentle and loving, in business a man of probity, and in his relationship with his twin brother, Caleb, a virtual saint. Now Angus is missing, and it appears more than possible that Caleb has murdered him. Hired to solve the mystery, William Monk puts himself in Angus’s shoes, searching for clues to the missing man’s fate and his vicious brother’s whereabouts.
- Weighed in the Balance – When Countess Zorah Rostova asks Sir Oliver Rathbone to defend her against a charge of slander. Without a shred of evidence, the countess has publicly insisted that the onetime ruler of her small German principality was murdered by his wife, the woman who was responsible for the prince’s exile to Venice twenty years before. William Monk and Hester Latterly journey to the City of Water in an attempt verify the countess’s claims.
- The Silent Cry – In sunless Water Lane, respected solicitor Leighton Duff lies dead, kicked and beaten to death. Beside him is the barely living body of his son, Rhys. The police cannot fathom these brutal assaults until William Monk, aided by nurse-turned-sleuth Hester Latterly, uncovers a connection between them and a series of rapes and beatings of local prostitutes. But then the case takes an even more shocking turn.
- A Breach of Promise – In a sensational breach-of-promise suit, two wealthy social climbers are suing on behalf of their beautiful daughter, Zillah. The defendant is Zillah’s alleged fiancé, brilliant young architect Killian Melville, who adamantly declares that he will not, cannot, marry her. Utterly baffled by his client’s refusal, Melville’s counsel, Sir Oliver Rathbone, turns to his old comrades in crime-William Monk and nurse Hester Latterly.
- The Twisted Root – A young bridegroom enlists private investigator William Monk to track down his fiancée, Miriam Gardiner, who disappeared suddenly from a party at a luxurious Bayswater mansion. Monk soon finds the coach in which Miriam fled and, nearby, the murdered body of the coachman, but there is no trace of the young passenger.
- Slaves of Obsession – The American Civil War has just begun, and London arms dealer Daniel Alberton is becoming a very wealthy man. His quiet dinner party seems remote indeed from the passions rending America. Yet investigator William Monk and his bride, Hester, sense growing tensions and barely concealed violence. For two of the guests are Americans, each vying to buy Alberton’s armaments. Soon Monk and Hester’s forebodings are fulfilled as one member of the party is brutally murdered and two others disappear.
- Funeral in Blue – Two beautiful women have been found strangled in the studio of a well-known London artist. To investigator William Monk and his wife, Hester, the murders are a nightmare. One of the victims is the wife of Hester’s cherished colleague, surgeon Dr. Kristian Beck, a Viennese émigré who becomes the prime suspect. With an intensity born of desperation, the Monks seek evidence that will save Dr. Beck from the hangman.
- Death of a Stranger – For the prostitutes of Leather Lane, nurse Hester Monk’s clinic is a lifeline-especially welcome since lately their ailments have escalated from bruises and fevers to broken bones and knife wounds. As Hester ventures into violent streets to learn who is responsible for the brutal abuse of her patients, brilliant private investigator William Monk acquires a new client, a mysterious beauty who asks him to ascertain beyond a shadow of a doubt whether or not her fiancé has become enmeshed in fraudulent practices that could ruin him.
- The Shifting Tide – William Monk knows London’s streets like the back of his hand. But the river Thames and its teeming docks is unknown territory. Only Monk’s dire need for work persuades him to accept an assignment from shipping magnate Clement Louvain, to investigate the theft of a cargo of African ivory from Louvain’s recently docked schooner, the Maude Idris. But why didn’t Louvain report the ivory theft directly to the River Police?
- Dark Assassin – On a patrol boat near Waterloo Bridge, police superintendent William Monk notices a young couple engaged in an intense discussion. Seconds later, the two plunge to their deaths in the icy waters of the Thames. Was it an accident, a suicide, or a murder? From luxurious drawing rooms where powerful men hatch their unscrupulous plots, to the sewers beneath the city where poor folk fight crippling poverty, Monk must connect the clues before death strikes again.
- Execution Dock – On the bustling docks along the River Thames, in dank and sinister alleys, sex merchants ply their lucrative trade. The dreaded kingpin of this dark realm is Jericho Phillips, who seems far beyond the reach of the law. But when thirteen-year-old Fig is found with his throat cut, Commander William Monk of the River Police swears that Phillips will hang for this abomination.
- Acceptable Loss – On a London riverbank, when the body of small-time crook Mickey Parfitt washes up with the tide, no one grieves. But William Monk is puzzled by the murder weapon: an elegant scarf whose original owner was obviously a man of substance. Dockside informers lead Monk to a floating palace of corruption on the Thames managed by Parfitt, where a band of half-starved boys is held captive for men willing to pay a high price for midnight pleasures.
- A Sunless Sea – William Monk is accustomed to violent death, but the mutilated female body found on Limehouse Pier one chilly December morning moves him with horror and pity. The victim’s name is Zenia Gadney. Her waterfront neighbors can tell him little. She must be a prostitute, but she doesn’t appear to be a fallen woman. What sinister secrets could have made poor Zenia worth killing?
- Blind Justice – Hester Monk questions the finances of a London church whose members’ hard-earned charitable gifts appear to have ended up in the pocket of charismatic preacher Abel Taft, paying for his fine home and the stylish outfits of his wife and daughters. Taft is accused of extortion, and brilliant barrister Oliver Rathbone, newly appointed a judge, is chosen to preside over his trial but a reckless move on his part could ruin his career, his reputation, and his life.
- Blood on the Water – One summer afternoon, William Monk witnesses the horrifying explosion of the pleasure-boat Princess Mary, which sends to their deaths nearly two hundred merrymakers. The tragedy is no accident. Monk should handle the case, but the investigation is turned over to the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. An Egyptian man is swiftly caught, tried, and sentenced to die. But almost as quickly, Monk presents evidence that the accused was elsewhere at the time of the blast. The investigation, now in complete disarray.
- Corridors of the Night – The monomaniacal Rand brothers are ruthless in their pursuit of a cure for what was then known as the fatal “white-blood disease.” In London’s Royal Naval Hospital annex, Hester is tending one of the brothers’ dying patients when she stumbles upon three children, and learns to her horror that they’ve been secretly purchased and imprisoned by the Rands for experimental purposes. But the Rand brothers are too close to a miracle cure to allow their experiments to be exposed.
- Revenge in a Cold River – When Commander William Monk of the Thames River Police is called to investigate the drowning of an escaped prisoner, he’s forced to contend with customs officer McNab, who clearly bears a bitter grudge against him. But the reason is a mystery in itself. Monk’s memory loss-a secret he guards closely-leaves him vulnerable to repercussions from his missing past, especially his exploits overseas in the tumultuous Gold Rush days of San Francisco.
- An Echo of Murder – A Hungarian warehouse owner lies in the middle of his blood-sodden office, pierced through the chest with a bayonet and eerily surrounded by seventeen candles, their wicks dipped in blood. Suspecting the murder may be rooted in ethnic prejudice, William Monk turns to London’s Hungarian community in search of clues but finds his inquiries stymied by its wary citizens and a language he doesn’t speak. Only with the help of a local pharmacist acting can Monk hope to penetrate this tightly knit enclave, even as more of its members fall victim to identical brutal murders.
- Dark Tide Rising – Jacob’s Island is a broken-down waterside slum, a place of perpetual gloom where William Monk is just as likely to lose a man to the mud and tides as to the criminals who hide in the shadows. Kidnappers have chosen this warren of tunnels and alleys as the site of a ransom exchange for Kate Exeter, the wife of wealthy real estate developer Harry Exeter. Harry asks the Thames River Police to accompany him to ensure that no harm comes to him or his captive wife. But on arrival, Monk and five of his best men are attacked from all sides, and Monk is left wondering who could have given away their plans.
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