Sunday, December 14, 2014

Review: Blood on the Water by Anne Perry

Blood on the Water (William Monk, Book #20)
by Anne Perry
Release Date: September 9th, 2014
2014 Ballantine Books
Hardcover Edition; 320 Pages
ISBN: 978-0345548436
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

One summer afternoon, Monk witnesses the horrifying explosion of the pleasure boat Princess Mary, which takes nearly two hundred of the merrymakers on board to their deaths.

The tragedy is no accident. As commander of the River Police, 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 Habib Beshara, though a nasty piece of work, was elsewhere at the time of the blast. The investigation, now in complete disarray, is hastily turned over to Monk.

Is the crime connected with the soon-to-be-opened Suez Canal, which will enormously benefit wealthy British shipping companies? Or did all of those innocent people drown to ensure the murder of only one of them? How did the bomber board the ship, and how did he manage to escape? Is he an anarchist or a madman?

My Thoughts
Blood on the Water is the twentieth novel in the William Monk series, and while it is not my favourite one of the series, Perry still manages to give her readers quite a bit to think about and ponder throughout this somewhat intriguing mystery.   

First of all, I was thrilled to note that Oliver Rathbone returned in this novel.  I was quite devastated when I learned what happened to him, and I was afraid that perhaps he would not play a prominent role in future novels for quite a while; luckily, this was not the case.  What would be a court case without the knowledge and expertise of Rathbone?  I just had to get used to the different roles he had to undertake in this novel, but it wasn't as challenging as I expected; I was just so happy to have him back.  

What I always find fascinating about an Anne Perry novel is the convoluted politics and human emotions that are always front and central to the plot, and pretty much drives any plot she has written.  Humans are flawed and make mistakes, sometimes big ones, and Perry doesn't gloss any of that over with excuses; she just lays it on the line, and often her characters have a huge price to pay because of the mistakes they have made.  I really like that about these novels, and it always gives me something rather deep over which to ponder.  In this case, the questions asked revolved around the innocence and guilt of a man going to trial and how do we know for sure that eye-witness accounts are actually accurate?  I thought the whole set-up for this scenario was quite intriguing and interesting, and it did make me think quite a bit as to what we actually see compared to what we think we see, and how easily it is to manipulate that with the right manipulator.  And this is what this book was about:  Did the eyewitnesses actually see what they thought they did, or were they being led to see what certain people wanted them to believe they saw?  Complicated, yes?  And I thought Perry handled it very well.  Unfortunately, the plot itself was a bit loose and I think all of the convoluted manipulated to the eyewitnesses made the reader lose empathy for the killer which decreased the overall impact to the novel.  If you are not emotionally invested in who actually did it, and why, you've kind of lost the whole sense of the murder-mystery novel, and that edge of suspense that is needed for such a genre, and it definitely lost itself in this one.  And to be honest, I kind of wish Perry would leave the big conspiracies to Thomas and Charlotte and leave well enough alone with these novels.  Not every novel has to be about a big huge conspiracy, or give the appearance of being about a big conspiracy.  

Blood on the Water is one of those novels where the writing is compelling enough to keep me reading, although I was a big disappointed over the actual plot line, and the over-focus on the characters and whether they were telling the truth or not became a bit too much.  I just felt like the real meat of the story was missing this time, the more compelling aspects of a usual Anne Perry novel.  While I didn't have a problem with the slower pace of the investigation as this gave Perry a chance to set up some characters and plot lines, I just felt like something was missing this time, although I can't really explain it.  Will I read another one of her novels?  Oh, yes, because I know how good they can be, and I would be afraid to miss that really good one.


  1. Good review! Perry is one of those authors that I've never gotten into reading though.

    1. I have been following her since her first book was released, and I find there is something addictive to her characters as I just have to know what happens to them.