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Acceptable Loss: A William Monk Novel    by Anne Perry order for
Acceptable Loss
by Anne Perry
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2012 (2011)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Anne Perry's Acceptable Loss (the seventeenth in this popular series) is very much a continuation of her previous William Monk mystery, Execution Dock, and I strongly recommend reading that first. Unfortunately I missed it, a fact that hampered my enjoyment of this episode somewhat as I was unable to catch many of the references to what happened before.

As Acceptable Loss opens, William Monk is commander of the River Police, and he and Hester have taken in Scuff, a fiercely independent mudlark, who suffers bad nightmares and survivor's guilt from the previous adventure, in which he was kidnapped and witnessed atrocity. Their friendship with gifted barrister Oliver Rathbone and his wife Margaret (who helps Hester fund raise for her clinic) has become fragile, since Lord Justice Sullivan claimed that Margaret's father was 'the power and money behind Jericho Phillips' abominations' before his suicide in Execution Dock. And that friendship is about to be strained much more in this episode.

First, a corpse is found in the river, that of Mickey Parfitt - and he was strangled with an expensive silk cravat that is easily identified. Parfitt was 'Inter fencin', pimpin', generally makin' a profit out of other folks' misery.' One of his schemes involved a boat, richly outfitted, in which Monk discovers half-starved children, used in pornographic shows for 'upriver clientele', just as in Jericho Phillips' setup. Unfortunately it turns out that the cravat used to kill Parfitt belonged to Rupert Cardew, a wild and wealthy young dilettante who has befriended Hester and helped with her clinic. Monk is forced to arrest him.

As always, Hester is determined to dig for the truth and she does so, with Scuff's help. She tracks down a young woman who can testify on Cardew's behalf, but her witness disappears, with the connivance of someone at the clinic. When Margaret's father comes under suspicion in the murder, tensions escalate - amongst the four friends, and in Oliver Rathbone's marriage, as all are forced to ask themselves, does a good end ever justify foul means? Like the last one, this episode ends with a big, unanswered question and fans will just have to wait for the next William Monk adventure for resolution.

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