Book review: Blind Justice by Anne Perry

Blind Justice by Anne Perry
Blind Justice by Anne Perry
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You can always rely on Anne Perry to deliver so much more than a routine Victorian crime mystery.

Her two best-selling series, one featuring Inspector Thomas Pitt and the other starring Inspector William Monk and his competent and caring wife Hester, have helped her become one of the The Times newspaper’s 20th Century ‘100 Masters of Crime.’

These thought-provoking, atmospheric thrillers harness the murky underbelly of Dickensian London with plotlines that ask soul-searching questions about the moral and ethical values of society both yesterday and today.

Perry is never afraid to probe deep into the heart of 19th century darkness, and Blind Justice, her nineteenth William Monk novel, exposes the vulnerabilities of organised religion, the precarious boundaries of justice and the flaws within the legal system.

Hester Monk is disturbed to learn from one of the young nurses at her London clinic for sick and injured prostitutes that a local Nonconformist church minister has been pressurising members of his congregation into giving more money than they can afford, causing serious financial debts.

Never one to shy away from making waves, Hester sets off to investigate and soon suspects that the minister, Abel Taft, could well be lining his own pockets rather than spending church cash on good causes.

Before long the police are called in and Taft, a charismatic leader adored by his congregation, stands accused of a fraud which has ruined lives and betrayed those church members who put their trust in him.

Meanwhile, Sir Oliver Rathbone, one of the most brilliant barristers in England and William Monk’s close friend, has recently presided brilliantly over his first case as a judge but the Taft trial will be a far greater challenge.

In court, each victim affirms Taft’s guilt but when the defence’s star witness tears their stories apart, the case seems lost.

However, Rathbone realises that locked away at his home, he has a piece of damning evidence that could change the outcome of the trial and bring true justice. Can he, as the judge, become involved? His decision draws Monk deep into a dangerous case that will shape the rest of both their lives...

Rich and poor, good and bad, hypocrisy, benevolence and corruption all come under Perry’s discerning gaze in a complex and psychologically astute story which marries suspense with serious issues of morality and conscience.

The relationship between Monk and Hester – a union founded on affection, integrity and mutual respect – continues to flourish amidst the dark deeds of a city mired in greed and social inequality.

A clever and compelling tale from a master of her art…

(Headline, paperback, £7.99)