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The Sins of the Wolf    by Anne Perry order for
Sins of the Wolf
by Anne Perry
Order:  USA  Can
Ivy, 1995 (1994)

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* *   Reviewed by G. Hall

Anne Perry is the very popular British author of both the Inspector Monk / Hester Latterly and the Inspector Pitt series. Sins of the Wolf is the fifth Monk and Latterly book, set as usual in the late 1850s. Both Monk and Latterly are very interesting characters, excellently drawn by Perry. Monk, a former Scotland Yard police inspector, now makes his living as a private detective. Just before the first book in the series, he suffered a horrible traffic accident and subsequently struggles with amnesia. A proud loner, Monk is able to hide this from most people, since he has just enough memory to continue functioning in his life. Hester Latterly, one of my favorite fictional characters, is an independent young woman, recently returned from nursing under Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War. Although this was unusual for a well-bred woman, and the profession was not respected, Hester continued to work as a nurse in London.

These books provide wonderful portraits of the very stratified class system in Victorian England and how it locked people for life into certain roles and expectations. Perry is scrupulous in the details and the reader really gets an idea of what life was like for all her different characters. Perry is also a master at creating her characters, so that all of them, both major and minor, breathe life. 'Sins of the Wolf' refers to one of the circles of Dante's inferno, filled with deceit and evil. This aptly describes Hester's situation after an elderly patient, whom she is hired to escort from Edinburgh to London, dies under her care. Hester is charged with murder. Her friends, including Monk and solicitor Oliver Rathbone, rally around to help Hester and find who really poisoned Mary Farraline.

Perry excels at creating a complete world and in this book it is the household of the Farralines, owners of a successful Edinburgh printing house. As was the custom in those days, many of the children of Mary Farraline, along with their spouses, live in the large Farraline household. All become potential murder suspects. Though the Monk series is deservedly very well-regarded, the books can be a bit of a slow read. Perry methodically describes all details, including the reactions of the arrogant and prickly Monk and the stubborn Hester to each and every situation. This pace can make the reader impatient for the resolution of the mystery. However, Perry is so good at the mystery trifecta (plot, setting and characters), that the books are well worth reading. In this one the conclusion was truly surprising and very satisfying.

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