Acceptable Loss by Anne Perry

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Acceptable Loss by Anne Perry

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Category: Crime (Historical)
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: Victorian London sees police official Monk in his role in charge of the Thames River Police. Soon he's caught up in a vile web of prostitution and pornography and also a murder or two.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: April 2011
Publisher: Headline
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0755376841

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I must admit to not taking to the rather stylized front cover and nor did I take to the title. I got the initial impression that this novel was going to be all about heaving bosoms and manly men without too much substance. Was I right though? I gave a bit of a sigh as I started on chapter one. Straight away we meet two of the central characters, Mr and Mrs Monk. Mrs Monk (Hester) seems to have brought a local street urchin into her lovely home. All sounds a bit odd and also a bit intriguing. Perry back-tracks a little for the benefit of her readers and lets us know how this situation has come about. The boy is street-wise but he's also now desperate for a warm, safe bed and regular meals if he's lucky. He's had a dreadful life up till now and has somehow survived a terrible ordeal - and yes, you could say that it's the stuff of nightmares. I loved his name - Scuff and I automatically called him Scruff in my head, every time.

Monk's unenviable job is in and around the busy area of London Docks. Ships, boats, unloading and loading while a bevy of workers go about their business all give a flavour of Victorian London in 1864. And Perry cleverly gives her readers a continual thread and sense of location. Lots of Cockney dialect keeps the pot nicely bubbling which I loved. It worked for me.

The subject matter is uncomfortable, very uncomfortable. The abuse of small boys; some as young as five. The story itself is complex (but not complicated) with plenty of characters dipping in and out and also the odd red herring and some twists and turns too. The book for me was one of those slow-burners, it takes a little time to get to know and to care for, the characters but then suddenly, you're away. Two other main characters are Oliver Rathbone and his wife, Margaret. The Rathbones' and the Monks' paths cross time and time again to make for a very enjoyable read indeed. Perry paints two interesting women here. There's the refreshingly honest and hard-working Hester and the rather insipid (but no less interesting) lady of leisure, Margaret. Their character traits are tested throughout the book. How will the women react in very serious, personal circumstances? Survival instinct kicks in for one - but which one? You may be surprised. Margaret is, after all, married to the most gifted barrister in London apparently. As the plot thickens, Rathbones' legal skills are put to the test.

Perry is very good with her characters. They come across well on the page. In this novel, there is a diverse bunch. We have low-life aplenty - the scum of London basically who would sell their grandmother, if need be, for a pint of ale. And then there's a smattering of London society gentlemen. Men whose lives run on well-oiled wheels and who can also pay for their despicable vices. The book cover blurb says that Perry explores social and ethical issues. She certainly does in this book. But she does it without ugly or unnecessary sensation. She doesn't need to go into graphic detail - her readers will get the picture. And sadly, the scenario she covers is not confined to Victorian fiction.

I hadn't read Perry before but I would happily read more of her books. I liked her style and characterisation. With her sensitive take on what is also a real-life social issue, I would rate this book as an above-average read. Recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals then try Death In Hellfire by Deryn Lake. You might also enjoy Based on a True Story by Elizabeth Renzetti.

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Buy Acceptable Loss by Anne Perry at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Acceptable Loss by Anne Perry at


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