Cain His Brother, by Anne Perry

>> Wednesday, June 20, 2007

TITLE: Cain His Brother
AUTHOR: Anne Perry

PAGES: 404

SETTING: Late 1850s London
TYPE: Mystery
SERIES: Book #6 in the William Monk series.

REASON FOR READING: Still rereading the series in order.

In his family life, Angus Stonefield had been gentle and loving; in business, a man of probity; and in his relationship with his twin brother, Caleb, a virtual saint. Now Angus is missing, and it appears more than possible that Caleb--a creature long since abandoned to depravity--has murdered him.

Hired to find the missing man, William Monk puts himself into his shoes, searching for clues to Angus's fate and his vicious brother's whereabouts. Slowly, Monk inches toward the truth--and also, unwittingly, toward the destruction of his good name and livelihood. . .
THE PLOT:When Genevieve Stonefield engages Monk's services in searching for her husband, who's been missing for three days, she's insistent on her belief that he's probably dead. Most cases involving a missing husband would be about adultery and hardly worth Monk's time, but Angus Stonefield's is special. Angus had a twin brother living in the slums of the Limehouse, a twin brother who hated him and resented him. in spite of this, Angus would visit him regularly and help him out whenever he requested it. It's in one of these visits that Genevieve fears he might have met his death.

Combing the Limehouse to find any traces of Angus, Monk becomes more and more convinced that Genevieve is right and that Caleb must have killed him. But can he succeed in proving he's dead if he can't find a body?

And as if his current case weren't hard enough, a threat from Monk's forgotten past rises up and threatens to drag him down.

MY THOUGHTS: We've got three options here: either the solution was very obvious, or I'm incredibly brilliant and made some stunning deductions, or something about this book has stuck in my memory from when I first read it, over ten years ago. I would love for it to be #2, but I'm thinking it was probably # 3. Whatever it was, I saw the essence of the solution from the very beginning, and this meant that all element of surprise was removed from my reading experience.

And without it, this wasn't a particularly scintillating mystery, case-wise. Right up until the trial (hey, you know Rathbone will have to have his space, somehow), it feels as if Monk is going around in circles. Around and around and around Limehouse, asking the same questions again and again and always receiving the same answers. And after that, off to Genevieve to report that there are no news to report. Perry's keen sense of characterization keeps it from being deadly boring, but it's not great, either. Oh, and the final resolution? Didn't completely buy it, either.

What saves this from being blah is the more romancey and relationship-related part of the book, which was much more interesting (and which I didn't remember at all, which helped). If you'll remember, at the very end of the last book there were some definite developments in Hester and Monk's relationship. That simmering attraction between them, which they each denied so vigorously and which was so obvious to us readers, flared up. And then the book ended without them even talking about it, and left me wondering what would happen next.

Well, what happens is more denial, especially on Monk's part. It seemed to me that Hester (who's nursing tiphoid victims in Limehouse here, and can provide Monk some help because of it) has finally accepted her feelings, but obviously, this is the Victorian era, so however modern she is, she can't just go and push. It's up to Monk to do that, and he seems to be trying tremendously hard to forget anything happened at all. I wanted to shake the obstinate, mule-headed idiot for it, and he really deserved the scare he got because of the way he went about trying to get over his feelings for Hester (while denying they existed at all). Serves him right, the fool, and I crowed even harder at how Hester had to rescue him, because Mr. Powerful Investigator here was completely defeated even before he got started. Hah!

MY GRADE: I'll go with a B. Now, will something finally happen between Hester and Monk in the next one, Weighed in the Balance? According to the comment LizL left after my review of Sins of the Wolf, "the relationship sinks back down into the deep for a book or two". I certainly hope it's only one, and that we move forward in the next one.


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