I knew that this was about the River Thames and a wreck. What I didn't realize is that it was set in the 1860s so that the way things were handled were so very different to what it was today.
A sudden explosion on a pleasure boat cruising the Thames sends it to the bottom of the river swiftly. 179 passengers are dead and Monk who is in charge of the River Police is by accident a witness to the entire incident watching from a boat alongside. He along with his fellow officer tries to save as many people as they could as do several other boats in the area. The death toll is huge and it is very easily identified as a deliberate explosion.
The how, why and who are the crux of the story. A little slow in the telling, a bit ponderous for me it takes us through the deliberations of the River Police and the Metropolitan Police who take over the investigation as it is considered "of diplomatic importance" and the total failure due to corruption, cover up and bribery on their part that finds it handed back to the River Police for its final call. Connecting the explosion of the Princess Mary to the soon to be opened Suez Canal which will enhance British shipping interests enormously, we are curious to see how this finally ends.
Interesting to see that some things haven't changed from the 1860s to now. The bribery, corruption, feedbacks, blackmail. and most importantly shortfalls in the justice system still do exist so I guess nothing much has changed. It took a while to accept the slow pace of investigation of the times. We are in the present age used to such instant solutions and instant feedback that this took a little getting used to.
Downloaded to my Kindle through Netgalley - via Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine.