A Dangerous Mourning Essay - Critical Essays

A Dangerous Mourning

A DANGEROUS MOURNING is the second of Anne Perry’s books to feature Inspector William Monk, who was introduced in THE FACE OF A STRANGER (1990). In these books and in earlier mysteries featuring Inspector Thomas Pitt and his aristocratic wife Charlotte Pitt, Perry displays her understanding of the Victorian period, her psychological insight, and her skill in maintaining suspense up to the final page of her story.

The structure of A DANGEROUS MOURNING is typical of Perry’s work. It begins with the discovery of the murder of Octavia Haslett, the widowed daughter of Sir Basil Moidore. The blue-blooded relatives of the deceased press for an immediate solution of the embarrassing crime, a solution which will be acceptable to them only if the culprit is an outsider, preferably of the criminal class. Inspector Monk must find the truth without offending the aristocrats involved, who are systematically scheming to deceive him. Furthermore, in order to keep from losing his job, he must himself conceal the fact that he is suffering from partial amnesia.

The passion for justice with which Perry’s detectives are imbued makes them appealing protagonists. In this novel, Inspector Monk finds someone who shares his passion in Hester Latterly, a woman who defied convention to serve as a nurse in the Crimean War. The truth which the two of them finally discover exposes the indifference to justice and to common humanity which underlies the respectable facade of Victorian England.