In Anne Perry's latest Detective Monk novel, gentleman Leighton Duff and his son Rhys are attacked on a cold, gaslit evening in St. Giles, a London slum. Leighton dies, Rhys receives a beating that shatters his entire body. Broken and unable to speak, Rhys is recovering at his home, nursed by Hester Latterly and pulls through. Although Hester is toughened by nursing in the Crimea, she is shocked by the damage done to the 19-year-old Rhys.

Meanwhile, Detective William Monk is investigating the rapes and beatings of prostitutes in Seven Dials, a slum near St. Giles. The victims are unwilling to talk, and the locals believe the police aren't interested. Yet Monk is a dogged man, a believer in justice. As he relentlessly pursues the case, he soon concludes there is a connection between his case and Hester's patient.

This is the finest entry in the Monk series to date. The story is so compelling it's impossible to put down. Highly atmospheric, one feels transported back to 1850's London. It is hard to believe that the spirit of Charles Dickens does not live on in Ms. Perry. Also, more of Monk's past is revealed, including an explanation for the enmity between Monk and Runcorn. THE SILENT CRY definitely leads the list of this seasons must reads. (Oct., 361 pp., $24.45)

Reviewed by: 
Toby Bromberg