Hester was -half--asleep when she heard the slight sound, as if someone were taking in a sharp breath and then letting out a soft, desperate gasp. Monk was motionless beside her, his hand loose on the pillow, his hair falling over his face.
It was not the first time in the last two weeks that Hester had heard Scuff crying in the night. It was a delicate relationship she had with the boy she and Monk had befriended. He had lived on the streets by the river and had largely provided for himself, which had made him wise beyond his age, and fiercely independent. He considered he was looking after Monk, who in Scuff's opinion lacked the knowledge and the fierce survival instincts required for his job as head of the Thames River Police at Wapping, in the heart of the London docks.
Until last month Scuff had come and gone as he'd pleased, spending only the occasional night at Monk's house in Paradise Place. However, since his kidnapping, and the atrocity on the boat at Execution Dock, he had come to live with them, going out only for short periods during the day, and tossing and turning at night, plagued by nightmares. He would not talk about them, and his pride would not let him admit to Hester that he was frightened of the dark, of closed doors, and, above all, of sleep.
Of course she knew why. Once the tight control he kept over himself in his waking hours slipped from him, he was back on the boat again, curled up on his side beneath the trapdoor to the bilges, nailed in with the -half--rotted corpse of the missing boy, fighting the swirling water and the rats, the stench of it making him gag.
In his nightmares it did not seem to matter that he was now free, or that Jericho Phillips was dead; Scuff had seen the man's body himself, imprisoned in the iron cage in the river, his mouth gaping open as the rising tide trapped him, choking off his voice forever.
Hester heard the gasping sound again, and slipped out of bed. She pulled on a wrap, not so much for warmth in the late September night, but for modesty so as not to embarrass Scuff if he was awake. She crept across the room and along the passage. His bedroom door was open just wide enough for him to pass through. The gas lamp was on low, maintaining the fiction that she had forgotten and left it on, as she did every night. Neither of them ever mentioned this.
Scuff was lying tangled in the sheets, the blankets slipped halfway to the floor. He was curled up in just the same position as they had found him in when she and the -rat--catcher, Sutton, had pried open the trapdoor.
Without debating with herself anymore, Hester went into the room and picked up the blankets, placing them over him and tucking them in lightly.
Excerpted from Acceptable Loss by Anne Perry. Copyright © 2011 by Anne Perry. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
When the body of a small-time crook named Mickey Parfitt washes up on the banks of the Thames, William Monk, commander of the River Police, knows the victim’s death was no accident. But he’s puzzled by the expensive silk cravat that was used to strangle Parfitt. How did this elegant scarf—obviously owned by a man of substance—end up embedded in the neck of a petty criminal?
After talking to dockside informants, Monk learns the wharf rat richly deserved his sordid end. Rowing upstream, he discovers a floating den of corruption, where captive, half-starved boys were forced to endure hideous abuse at the hands of Parfitt’s rich clientele. Only recently, Monk had rescued a homeless boy from a similar ordeal, and now, having watched the child battle to overcome his demons, Monk is determined to uncover, once and for all, the men funding the operation.
New York Times bestselling author Anne Perry paints a searing portrait of crime and justice in Victorian London, as Acceptable Loss sends Monk on a relentless hunt for the truth. As his investigation delves ever deeper, Monk must ford a foul stream of depravity, blackmail and murder to a deadly confrontation with some of England’s most respected men.
Hardcover Book : 336 pages
Publisher: Ballantine/Delrey/Div. Random House ( August 09, 2011 )
Item #: 13-434882
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.75inches
Product Weight: 12.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
This is the first time I've read an Anne Perry book, but it want be the last. She puts you right there. I've shared the book with friends and family and they all give a 5 star review.
I can't say enough about this series of books. I've loved every one of them. The
characters are so well written. Monk's character has evolved so much from the first book and Hester is as always marvelous. I always look forward to the next book in the series. I just wish she would write more of them.
Reviewer: cindy h
I rely on reviews to help me know more about a book prior to purchasing. I have seen these adolescent posts on too many reviews and I'm wondering why.
Reviewer: Nancy W