This is the 20th, and perhaps the best, book in the Monk series. Here, Monk is witness to the explosion of sinking of a pleasure boat on the Thames and the loss of over 200 people. The investigation should fall to Monk and the River Police, but it is handed over to the Metropolitan Police and the reason given is that it is ‘politically sensitive’. Monk watches as a man is quickly arrested, brought to trial and convicted of the crime, but flashes of memory of what he saw that night leads him to believe the wrong man has been found guilty. When evidence turns up that the convicted man could not have been the guilty party the case is handed back to the River Police.
They find and arrest another man, but it will be impossible to find him guilty in court as long as another person has been convicted of the crime. In order to prosecute, the first case must be overturned. Monk finds there is a lot of political ambition, and other motives at work to prevent this from happening, and they can’t find a motive.
As in the other Monk books, questions must be asked and answered about personal honor and integrity, the purpose of law, and how far can a person bend in order to protect the people they love without losing their moral compass.
The characters from former books in the series are here, as real as ever, but one could fully enjoy the book without having read any of the earlier books. The case has a good sense of reality about it. In our ideal worlds there is no corruption, no cover-ups, but in the actual world we know differently. The way the case evolves seems only too possible and the ending proves that truth, even painful truth, revealed at the beginning could never be as damaging as truth revealed after attempts to cover up the facts and corrupt justice. (A fact that people in power, and those that crave power, never seem to grasp.)
The book was tremendously enjoyable and I look forward to the next in this great series.