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The Shifting Tide    by Anne Perry order for
Shifting Tide
by Anne Perry
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

In The Shifting Tide, Anne Perry returns her readers to Queen Victoria's London, following Inquiry Agent William Monk through the labryinth of the city's dockside. A shipowner approaches Monk to find ivory tusks that were stolen from a ship recently arrived from Africa. Though a crewman was killed during the course of the theft, no police are to be involved. Badly needing the work, Monk agrees.

Monk's wife Hester runs a clinic for ill and abused prostitutes. Funds are always needed and are not easy to obtain from members of high society, the ones with ready cash. A woman is brought to the clinic in need of care. And therein lies the tale. Can Monk find and return the ivory in the time alloted to him? Will the mysterious woman survive her illness to leave the clinic on her own two feet? And who is she?

Perry has contrived a marvelous story, that twists and turns on almost every page, but which never loses sight of the storyline. Her knowledge of nineteenth century London is so extensive that she brings the drawing rooms as well as the Thames riverside into our homes. While reading her novel, I almost expected to see horse-drawn Hansom cabs rolling by outside my window.

Perry's grasp, and portrayal, of people's feelings creates an experience that readers can dive into and use to relate to their own relationships. Her writing flows with beauty and grace, whilst keeping a tight rein on the action. The action spoken of here is fast-paced with just the right amount of suspense to keep the reader turning the pages of a book that, no matter how long it is, is never quite long enough.

A terrifying twist brings William and Hester to their knees as they despair of each other's safety. A new Anne Perry novel is to be savored.

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