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"The way of a guilty man is perverse;
But as for the pure, his work is right." -- Proverbs 21:8 (NKJV)

This is my favorite of the William Monk novels in its brilliant portrayal of ethical dilemmas in Victorian England.

If you have not read Execution Dock, be sure to read or listen to that book before Acceptable Loss, which continues the story in that prior William Monk novel. Such knowledge is necessary to gain the full benefit of reading Acceptable Loss.

I am reviewing the unabridged audio CD, which I listened to, rather than the printed (or Kindle) version. I apologize in advance if I misspell any character names since I haven't seen most of them.

Acceptable Loss addresses some very fundamental issues that may make you feel uncomfortable. But the best novels do that. Let me mention them in case they are reasons for you to avoid the story.

The most obvious source of discomfort is the investigation of a criminal scheme involving blackmailing men who abuse imprisoned boys for thrills and sexual gratification. A second source of discomfort relates to the personal cost of the obligation to seek justice . . . something that may cause a reader or listener unease in examining herself or himself in her or his own personal matters. A third dimension of discomfort comes from the issue of personal loyalty versus public responsibility when long-term personal happiness is at stake. A fourth type of discomfort can follow realizing how corrupt one is forced to become when serving those who lack morality. A fifth source of discomfort comes in the issue of how far someone should go in using immoral means to achieve "good" purposes.

The story opens as a police procedural with William Monk investigating the death of a floater on the Thames who is soon identified as sleazy character, Mickey Parfitt. While some investigators might have taken the easy way out and simply not looked into the "loss" of another criminal, Monk does his duty. Monk soon finds a pathway of clues that leads close to his own career and home. If he continues to seek justice, it's quickly obvious that his very career in the police and reputation as a reputable investigator will be part of the personal stake he must risk.

The plot is exceptionally well designed to raise lots of ethical, legal, and practical issues that will make many readers feel placed in the middle of such difficult questions. Be patient as you read. It takes awhile for the dilemmas to emerge. The story is stretched out in places, I believe, to bring the dilemmas closer to the reader's or listener's heart.

One of my favorite elements of the story comes in its careful demonstration of the limits to justice being done through the criminal trial process.
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VINE VOICEon 1 February 2012
This novel follows the same case that was the central theme of Anne Perry's Execution Dock, probably my most favourite ever of her William Monk novels. I wondered whether a second book on the same subject would amount to overkill, and I could not have been more wrong. A riveting plot and a reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Sadly the issues addressed in this Victorian police procedural are still with us today. Highly recommended to fans of William Monk. Not a good introduction to the series however; best to start earlier on in the series.
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First Sentence: Hester was half-asleep when she heard the slight sound, as if someone were taking in a sharp breath and ten letting out a soft, desperate gasp.

Inspector William Monk and his wife, Hester, are still trying to help young orphan Scuff overcome his horrific experience of being kidnapped for use on a ship owned by Jericho Phillips used to "entertain" wealthy, corrupt men. No one much cares that Mickey Parfitt has been murdered, until the means of his death is discovered to be an expensive custom silk cravat belonging to a wealthy young man. In the investigation, they track Parfitt back to another such ship where 14 young boys are found held captive. Before his suicide, Lord Justice Sullivan, also involved in the previous case, had claimed wealthy barrister Arthur Ballinger, was the power and money behind the boat. A further complication is that the Monks' friend, barrister Oliver Rathbone, is married to Ballinger's daughter.

To say Anne Perry is a superb writer is anything but hyperbole. There is no one who better captures the Victorian period. From the homes of the wealthy, to the lowest, meanest parts of London, she creates a fully-realized world and time. Her detail is exacting; answering any question a reader might have as to its veracity. She doesn't paint the pretty picture, but the rough-edged, realistic view of the time.

Perry clearly illustrates the misconceptions and bias formed by people based only on social and economic differences. The subject of pedophilia and pornography is timeless and terrible. She raises strong moral and ethical issues, but never in a manner that is preachy or strident. Perry clearly conveys the internal struggles which can arise and asks very important questions about loyalty and power; the greed for power even when used for good--but at which price.

The mystery itself is very strong; partly focused on the investigation and partly on the courtroom scenes. Learning about legal and court procedures of the time were fascinating. Nothing about her writing is dry; but rather strongly emotional yet never maudlin. We are left, at the end, with an open question but not one that is detrimental to the story.

Although it can stand alone, "Acceptable Loss" reads best as a continuation of the previous book "Execution Dock." Either way, I strongly recommend "Acceptable Loss."

ACCEPTABLE LOSS (Hist Mys-Insp. William Monk/Hester-London-Victorian) - VG+
Perry, Anne - 17th in series
Ballantine Books, 2011
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on 22 September 2011
I am a great fan and thoroughly enjoyed this, although I do take the point of another review where it was stated that it didn't have the same impact, as the previous book "Execution Dock" hadn't been read. Although usually her stories do stand alone, I think the reader would "get more out of it" if the previous book had been read.

The only one of her books that I really disliked was "Sheen of Silk" set in Byzantium. The early "Thomas Pitt", are also more interesting because there is much more family background given to them - ie, what is happening with Aunt Vespasia, her sister, etc.

Nevertheless, overall, an extremely good standard.
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on 28 October 2011
Anne Perry books are always good and Acceptable Loss was just as good as I thought it would be, She only gets better.
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on 30 May 2011
I have read all The Monk series and Thomas Pitt series. This new book Acceptable Loss was released on my birthday April 14th and my husband thought it was a great gift for me.
Unfortunately, this is a small story stretched to several hundred pages and it shows. It is a continuation to the last book about child prostitution. The culprit Ballinger who Monk could not get in the last book is paramount in this book. Monk goes all out to prove that Ballinger is responsible for the rough trade and it is he who is the money behind the business.
Of course Rathbone the laywer is married to Ballinger's daughter and she will not believe that her father could do something like this.
If you must read this book, get it from the library. I found it well below par for Anne Perry and as I said a small story made big.
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To be honest I've not read Anne Perry prior to this so I feel that with so many other titles out there previously I did wonder if I'd be left out to dry with very little clue as to who is who and what the hell is happening. What I actually received from this title was a story that felt like a continuation, the subject matter was uncomfortable and to be honest it felt that the plot was a little stretched with what it achieved to create a full length story of what would have worked better as a novella.

That said however I did like the characters, they had a real feeling of depth and with the authors writing style it felt that it brought the time period to life which for me is the key aspect to any title. I will more than likely read other titles by Anne although I think I'll have to start at the beginning to get the full impact.
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on 7 October 2016
Excellent storyline slightly predictable however good triumphs over evil. Factually accurate of the times rivalling Mr Dickens social campaigns.I look forward to the next "Monk and Hester" novel.
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on 28 May 2013
I have enjoyed every Anne Perry book I have read especially the William Monk books. Would recommend reading them in order. Not essential but explains the relationship between the main characters
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on 12 March 2014
very good reading could not put it down once I had started to read
The book arrived in the time stated by the sellar and it was in good condition the price was right
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