Monday, October 29, 2012
Anne Perry, A SUNLESS SEA
Another William Monk mystery, this time about the influence of the opium trade. As usual, Perry has researched deeply into some aspect of Victorian England (the opium trade, going back to the Opium Wars with China) that had a profound influence on some aspect of Victorian culture. But I found this book a bit repetitive; at least four characters point out that the hypodermic syringe loaded with opium can cause an addiction that borders on a living death. The need for opium to treat pain is clear, as is the necessity for a "Pharmacy Act" that will label the contents of potions with opium; yet several characters repeatedly worry that the Act will limit people's ability to obtain it, which didn't make sense to me (though I am coming from a 21st-century perspective and it may very well have been a Victorian worry). There are some sloppy bits: for example, one of the characters, Agatha Nisbet, is "Agnes Nisbet" on page 305. Perry is so good at what she does, these are minor gripes. I do, however, prefer some of her earlier novels.