I picked this book up on a lark, just browsing at the library through the stacks. I can't even say what caught my eye about it. After reading it, however, I heartily recommend the book.
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.