Anne Perry is the bestselling author of two acclaimed series set in Victorian England: the William Monk novels, including A Sunless Sea and Acceptable Loss, and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels, including Midnight at Marble Arch and Dorchester Terrace. She is also the author of a series of five World War I novels, as well as eleven holiday novels, including the upcoming A Christmas Candle, and a historical novel, The Sheen on the Silk, set in the Ottoman Empire. Anne Perry lives in Scotland.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Excerpt from book:
Hester let the hansom cab pass, then crossed Portpool Lane and went in through the door to the clinic for sick and injured prostitutes.
Ruby saw her and her scarred face lit up with welcome.
“Is Miss Raleigh in?” Hester asked.
Ruby’s shoulders slumped. “Yes, ma’am, but she don’t look right. I thought as she were ’andmade for the job, like, but this mornin’ you’d’a thought she’d got left at the altar. All weepin’ an’ can’t believe it, like.”
Hester was stunned. When she had hired Josephine a few weeks earlier, the girl had said she was not courting and had no intention of giving up nursing in any imaginable future.
“Where is she? Do you know?” she asked.
“We got someone in all beat up, blood everywhere. She’ll be seein’ to ’er,” Ruby replied. “That were ’alf an hour ago, mind.”
“Thank you.” Hester went through the far door and along the passageway, asking after Josephine each time she encountered someone. In the old pantry where they kept medical supplies she finally found her, moving between the shelves, counting and sorting. She was a pretty girl, perhaps too much character in her face to be conventionally beautiful. Now her cheeks were stained with tears, her eyes were blank, and her lips were pressed so tight the muscles were visible along her jaw and in her neck. It was clear that she did not even hear Hester come in.
Hester closed the door to give them complete privacy before she spoke. As always, she was direct. Medicine, she had found, was not an art that allowed for much roundabout conversation.
“What’s wrong?” she asked gently.
Startled, Josephine swung round to face Hester. She was blinking rapidly as the uncontrolled tears slid down her face.
“I’m sorry. I’ll . . . I’ll be all right in a moment.” She was clearly ashamed at being caught giving way to her distress, whatever it was.
Hester put her hand ever so gently on Josephine’s arm. “Something must be very wrong for you to be so upset by it. You’ve seen terrible wounds and nursed the dying. Something that hurts you so much isn’t going to be dealt with in a few minutes. Tell me what it is.”
Josephine shook her head. “You can’t help with this,” she answered, her voice choking in her throat. “I . . . I need to work. Really . . .”
Hester did not loosen her grip.
“There’s nothing that anyone can do,” Josephine repeated, still attempting to pull away.
Hester hesitated. Would it be intrusive if she insisted? She liked this young woman on a deep, instinctive level; she reminded Hester of herself, years ago. And Hester knew exactly the pain and loneliness one felt when starting out in the profession. She had felt the overwhelming sense of helplessness that comes when witnessing the realities of physical agony and death, the moment when things go beyond anyone’s reach and all you can do is watch. All that, on top of the ordinPRAISE FOR ANNE PERRY AND HER WILLIAM MONK NOVELS
A Sunless Sea
“Anne Perry’s Victorian mysteries are marvels.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Masterful storytelling and moving dialogue.”—The Star-Ledger
“[An] engrossing page-turner . . . There’s no one better at using words to paint a scene and then fill it with sounds and smells than Anne Perry.”—The Boston Globe
“Brilliant . . . a page-turning thriller . . . blending compelling plotting with superbly realized human emotion and exquisite period detail.”—Jeffery Deaver, author of Edge
The Shifting Tide
“The mysterious and dangerous waterfront world of London’s ‘longest street,’ the Thames, comes to life.”—South Florida Sun-Sentinel