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The Face of a Stranger [Hardcover]

Anne Perry
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Hardcover, Jan. 6 1994 --  
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Book Description

Jan. 6 1994 Inspector William Monk mysteries
An accident robs London police detective William Monk of his memory and entire past. When he returns to work his first case is that of the brutal murder of a Crimean war hero. His investigations are made all the more difficult by the fact that Monk has also lost all of his professional skills.

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From Publishers Weekly

Branching out from her popular Victorian London sleuthing team, Inspector Thomas Pitt and his wife Charlotte, Perry ( Cardington Crescent ) introduces another exemplary "Peeler" (as in Bobby Peele, the first "bobby"), detective William Monk, in this period mystery with a pronounced and satisfying psychological dimension. After an accident in his carriage, Monk wakes up with no memory; ashamed to admit it, he bluffs his way through recovery and returns to work, where he is assigned a particularly tricky investigation of a young nobleman's brutal murder. While tracking the last affairs of Joscelinsp ok? yes Grey, Monk traces his own history and dislikes what he turns up on both fronts. Uncovering unpleasant secrets within Grey's aristocratic family, he also finds his gradually revealed former self to have been ambitious, cold and perhaps cruel. Integral to Perry's rich, unpredictable plot is the Crimean War, graphically described by Hester Latterly, a forthright young woman of the middle class who nursed there with Florence Nightingale. While Monk's unwillingness to face directly the questions of his past is often a stumbling block, forbearing readers will be amply rewarded by Perry's resolutions of both mysteries. Mystery Guild dual main selection.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

YA-- Readers are immediately immersed into the Victorian world of William Monk as he awakens from a coma in a squalid London hospital. Leaving in a semi-amnesic state, he finds his flat through a receipt in his pocket. Gradually, as he begins to solve a much-publicized murder case, Monk's established abilities as an investigator are renewed. As he unravels the case, he also comes to know his own past. Perry leads readers to the solutions of the two mysteries with a fine, comfortable style and descriptions of turn-of-the-century London that are vivid and accurate.
- Diane Goheen, Topeka West High School, KS
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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HE OPENED HIS EYES and saw nothing but a pale grayness above him, uniform, like a winter sky, threatening and heavy. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars William Monk is excellent! Dec 4 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I was delighted and captivated by this Anne Perry mystery. Her character, detective William Monk, wakes up in a Victorian hospital in 1857 or so, with no memory of who he is--but he does know enough to realize that the man visiting him at the hospital--his boss--is an unmitigated jerk who will ruin him, if he can. So Monk hides the depth of his amnesia and returns to work, to catch a killer and wrestle with the mystery of his own identity.
He discovers two disquieting and alarming facts--that he is not a man imbued with sweetness and light, and that he might himself have been responsible for a murder.
This is set against a canvas of exquisitely detailed mid-Victorian life and culture--bran pillows in the hospital!--and against Monk's own mysterious personality, which is in some ways, a character in its own right.
I believe it is quite clear from the way Perry writes, what she thinks of her own actions. A very strong moral code tuns through all of her stories. I cannot praise this book or the author enough. She is no Charles Manson.
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4.0 out of 5 stars DON'T READ ANY "MONK" NOVEL BEFORE THIS ONE! May 21 2002
Format:Hardcover
Yes, it's that vital. I picture the Timothy Dalton circa BBC's "Jane Eyre" to be very similar to the wolfish, well-dressed, passionate William Monk. Once you get to know him (despite his memory loss) you'll care very much about his character in subsequent novels. He's definitely a unique character in mystery fiction. This novel features a decent mystery, but serves mostly to introduce us to a completely different set of characters, and indeed a different time period than the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt novels. You'll like Hester Latterly, who reminds me of Emma Thompson. She nursed the wounded in the horrific battlegrounds of the Crimea, and is full of righteous indignation about hospital reform. Oliver Rathbone is a surprisingly moral barrister who takes a shine to Hester immediately, unlike Monk who keeps trying to convince himself that she is NOT his type. (Methinks he doth protest too much...) Dive on in and get ready for a steady series of interesting mysteries and even better courtroom scenes. Enjoy!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent start to a series May 11 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Nice Debut to a Good Series! April 8 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I went through the Pitt series first and picked up the Monk series with some trepidation...after twenty-odd books the Pitts were all beginning to look alike. I was pleasantly surprised by "The Face of a Stranger" and the Monk series remains one of my favorites.
Actually, it *is* possible to incur brain injury erasing memory but not touching your skills. We learned in class here at university about that, as they involve two separate areas of the brain. There are folks that can't remember yesterday but can still beautifully play the piano, perform surgery, etc.
True, some of Monk's amnesia is a bit selective, but this is a work of fiction and thus does entail inclusion of some possibly not-perfectly-realistic elements.
Monk's a great character, if not one easy to like. Flawed and all-too-human, it's also fun to watch his development through later books, so don't give up on him after "Face". Thomas Pitt was a *little* too perfect for my taste, so I rather like the darker character Monk presents. It's also a relief that Monk does not spontaneously recover his memory in a common author's cop-out. Also, Hester Latterly's the perfect foil for him, and their clashes are always amusing to read in each book, right from that first meeting in the countryside.
The mystery itself is interesting, and I noted that Ms. Perry once said that she intended for this to be a one-time book and not a series, intending to have Monk be the killer. I'm very glad she decided not to abandon him, even if he needs a good reality check at times. Not the absolute best of the Monk series, but a spirited and promising beginning to a great series.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Well-worth reading May 2 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In this book, William Monk wakes in a hospital in Victorian London with no memory of who he is or even what he looks like. This devastatingly frightening condition is no match for Monk though; his deep-seated instincts, which made him a formidable police detective (as he learns is his profession), lead him to slowly figure out, little by little, who he is and allow him solve a brutal murder.
Anne Perry provides a good mystery with a twist. I really liked the way she provided insight into Monk's thought process, fear and confusion while trying to discover all he can about himself.
I gave this book four stars instead of five only because I guessed ahead of time a significant plot point; however, this book is still a four star novel because I was surprised by the ending and was very impressed and fascinated by the way Perry introduces her characters, lets us get one impression of each, and then provides more in-depth information and personality development.
This book will pull you right in!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I am totally caught up in the series and have now read 11 of the books.
Published 1 month ago by Debbie Gillis
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
It is many years since I first read this book,but I still find it an excellent read.William Monk is a complex person and it is him and his shifting sense of self that takes this... Read more
Published on Dec 5 2011 by Mrs Rabbit
5.0 out of 5 stars Now I Understand!
I have read 3 or 4 William Monk books, but didn't pay any attention to order. I have really enjoyed them, so I thought I would start at the first and read them all in order. Read more
Published on March 16 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars The first William Monk book
Even though the first few chapters seemed a bit slow for my taste, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The personal problem of William Monk is different from most main characters in... Read more
Published on Sept. 2 2003 by Stefanie
1.0 out of 5 stars Not my cup of tea
This was the first Anne Perry book I have read, but it will be the last. I found the basic premise of the main character's amnesia to be a gimmick. Read more
Published on May 14 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars READ THIS BOOK
The best Anne Perry book I've ever read! Character development that creates compassion and intrigue. Read more
Published on April 27 2002 by Cheryl Farley
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment
Having heard the author speak on the radio, her works praised highly by the host, I decided to start with the first of the Monk series. Read more
Published on March 26 2002 by webgirrrl
4.0 out of 5 stars Great start to a series(Monk).
Introduction to a series which obviously became rather popular. This offering peaked my curiosity enough to read the second in the series. However, that is where I had to stop.
Published on Aug. 25 2001
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