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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Monday, August 26, 2013

Absolutely riveting!

Blind Justice (William Monk Series #19) by Anne Perry

Having been given an ARC of  Blind Justice I decided to read as many of the William Monk Series as I could before this one. To say that I became entangled and embroiled in them to the point of distraction is no understatement. William Monk and Hester's journey along with their friends from Sir Oliver to Scruff and others is precious, a journey in growth of the characters involved and in insightful moments of reflection on life, integrity, justice, freedom and love.  The series is  well worth the reading time. Whether you start at #1 or #19,  without a doubt you will want to devour the series.

In Blind Justice Hester takes up the cause of her employees at her clinic for sick and injured prostitutes. Her employee's father has been defrauded by the church he belongs to and is now in serious debt. This seemingly worthwhile cause has repercussions that stretch back to Jericho Phillips and for Oliver Rathbone, the presiding judge and keeper of criminal evidence and child pornography left by his father-in-law that stretches into the very upper echelons of society. This double-wedged sword of guilt is used and rebounds in a way of far reaching tragedy. Just prior to this I realized that although the fraud case may have ended the complexity of the situation had so much more to reveal. After all at this stage I was not even half way through the book.
A startling and complicated novel, well told. A seemingly simple look at the legal system of the time, that explores integrity, justice, the concepts of right and wrong including those areas of grey we all have trouble grasping. A gripping, highly original novel with Perry as always continuing via her characters in questioning, probing and exposing what it is to be human.

A NetGalley ARC

So let's talk about the 'elephant in the room.' The revelations that came to light in mid 2012 about Perry's abhorrent actions as a child some fifty or sixty years ago certainly reveal evil at work. But as one reflects upon her writings and the quite tightly woven ethical questions that her characters battle with, their searching for understanding and meaning in life, the roots of their  integrity, their battles against evil, their ideals of love and freedom,  I don't think I draw too long a bow to say that such searchings have come at a cost that Anne Perry (at least in her writings) truly understands. Dare I say that compassion accompanies her characters and that that compassion and forgiveness comes from a heart knowledge. In 'Blind Justice' (location 2418) Harriet explains to Scruff, 'Sometimes there is a kind of grace where you get forgiven without paying. You don't really deserve it, so you truly need to make yourself worthy afterwards by being grateful and making an effort to change.' 
I know others disagree but I do believe in redemption and with that in mind hope that this has truly occurred for Perry. Only she and God know.

William Monk Series

Face of a Stranger #1
In which we meet Monk, Evans, Rathbone and Hester
Monk has lost his memory and 
Inflamed by refusal to stay the trial of an innocent man, Monk resigns as a lawman and turns to private investigation.

A Dangerous Morning #2

Defend and Betray #3
A tortuous case of murder, incest and child pornography sodomy.
 Monk regains more of his memory as he is called to investigate the reasons for murder.

A Breach of Promise #9
In which Rathbone is called to defend a promising architect, Hester and Monk become involved in the mystery of the whereabouts of two young girls 18 or so years after their disappearance and Monk comes to realize what Hester means to him.

The Twisted Root #10
Despair and murder once again raises its ugly head with an unexpectedly twisted ending.

The Shifting Tide #14
Monk takes a job that has him deep into the dark secrets of life on the River Thames, encounters with the River police and the crossing of this case's path with Hester's clinic for street women. A dark and disturbing episode for Monk, Hester and Oliver.
So many noble and likeable characters in this episode, Scruff the river brat urchin, Durban the noble river policeman, Sutton the rat catcher, Crow the medico type person...

Dark Assassin #15
Monk is now part of the Thames River Police. Scruff reappears, as do Sutton and Crow.
Can Monk live up to the expectations that he inherits from Durban.
Murder is once more afoot, as is the potential for catastrophe. The sewer system is being built under London, too quickly without proper research about the many underground  streams that crisscross the areas being dug, and the possibility of large methane gas buildups. Two people have appeared to commit suicide, or was it murder?

Execution Dock #16
Child pornography and sodomy, evil doings, are the centre of this story. Durban's cases have opened up a hornet's nest. Graft and corruption stretches to high places. Oliver is unwittingly involved and the truth will be hard and harsh. Scruff is centre stage and our hearts go out to him.

Acceptable Loss #17
The spectre of child pornography and who is behind it becomes even murkier--and closer to home. Arthur Ballanger is arrested, Oliver has to defend his father-in-law and that opens up a maelstrom of guilt, hurt and betrayal. What is acceptable loss?
I can't help but wonder how much of Perry's writing reflects her own terrible secret that has recently come to light. Certainly Hester, Monk and Oliver's discussions and personal reflections about acceptance and love, honour and integrity. Unfortunately Margaret turns out not to be the person we thought we knew. That is disappointing. She had so much promise and has become more banal and unforgiving than earlier stories would have led us to believe.
A terrible novel really but gripping in the ongoing stories that are centre around these three characters.

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