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The Face of a Stranger: The First William Monk Novel Paperback – September 30, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
- Diane Goheen, Topeka West High School, KS
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The story starts with an amnesiac detective in the mid-19th century in London. As he returns to duty, he needs to rediscover himself as much as he needs to solve the case that he is assigned. I particularly enjoyed the idea that Monk, the protagonist, didn't like his old self that much (even though I don't think amnesia would change a person's basic traits). In any case, the Crimean War background, along with fine writing, make this historical mystery stand out. I plan to read other Monk novels after giving myself a short break.
I think this book will mainly appeal to two types of readers: first, hardcore mystery readers will enjoy the twists and turns of a traditional "let's gather in the library so I can tell you who did it" mystery; second, readers of historical fiction will enjoy, as I did, the gas-lit streets of London, the withdrawing rooms, and the spiritual depression of the British following the catastrophe that was the Crimean War.
All in all, this is a quick read that combines an interesting plot with high quality writing.
The story has Monk attempting to learn the set of circumstances that resulted in his hospitalization and amnesia--he must face the horrifying possibility that he was involved in a vicious crime, and he knows too little of himself to trust that he was incapable of such a deed. He learns through the reactions of others that he was (is?) not a nice man, and the more he learns, the more he doubts himself. The fact that his past does not come flooding back to him after another bump on the head speaks well to Perry's prowess as a writer.
Hester Latterly and Oliver Rathbone are the edgy counterparts to Monk's dark personality. Though never friends, these three circle each other with wary respect. Monk himself is an appealing character, the mystery is top-notch, and the Victorian setting is quintessential Perry--she has made it uniquely her own.
The Inspector Monk novels (of which this is the first) are darker and more gritty than the Pitt novels. There are few veils between the cruel and dangerous world of mid-century London and the reader, which gives the novels a faster pace and often more complicated plots. While some readers have taken issue with the amnesiatic Inspector Monk, I feel that his lack of awareness about his own past is a metaphor for the blindness his social betters are willing inflict upon themselves in order to keep up appearances. Monk's desire to KNOW, however, provides an interesting point of comparison with the people he must investigate who seem not to want to know anything at all that will make their lives unpleasant.
I have spoken more about character than plot in this review, and that is largely because Anne Perry's mysteries seem to me to pivot on their protagonists's characters. The plot of this novel, and the mysteries at the center of it, do not disappoint any more than the characters. As Monk tries to untangle his own personal mysteries, he is expected to get to the bottom of a mystery that involves death, financial ruin, and the closely-guarded secrets of some very proper families.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Explains William Monk's accident and his on going recovery. Also I like introduction of Hester to his lifePublished 7 days ago by jJoetta Ewing
Very suspenseful book! Long read but worth it! Love series.Published 17 days ago by Amazon Customer
It was a great mystery with twist at every corner. I will be reading more of this seriesPublished 27 days ago by Teresa Persell
Anne Perry is an excellent author. You get a great yarn and an education in Edwardian social attitudes.Published 1 month ago by BJW
Interesting premis though not quite believable. Very long slow start but last 1/3 really engaged.Published 3 months ago by mary m burnside
I'm already a big fan of Perry's "Pitt" series, so I grabbed up this first of the "Monk" series when Amazon offered it at a big discount for Kindle readers. Read morePublished 3 months ago by NinaS
Was ok, first book in series, too much rambling for me. I did not think every thought was necessary for the story. I don't feel the need to read the next book.Published 4 months ago by carmalcorn
Loved all the characters and plot, definitely will read more by this author and the Monk series.Published 4 months ago by Joyce A. Barbour