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The Face of a Stranger [Hardcover]

Anne Perry
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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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 Excellent read Dec 5 2011
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 book above so many other mystery stories.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Now I Understand! March 16 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. Now I more clearly understand about Monk's amnesia. It was really fun learning about Monk's 1st meeting with Hester Latterly. Great ending, although I felt very sympathetic to the killer. I love Anne Perry's books. Next, I'll probably read the Thomas Pitt novels in order.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The first William Monk book Sept. 3 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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 other books. The reader is getting to know him as he, too, is getting to know himself. I was surprised at the end of chapter 10 when he remembered something about himself, and for those who have read this book will know why. John Evan and Hester Latterly are other characters I liked, and I'm glad to hear they are in the other books. I didn't care too much for Hester's "flashbacks" from the war, but then at the end I was thankful there was a reason for them. I will definitely read the next book, A Dangerous Mourning, despite some of the bad reviews written about it.
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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 22 2002
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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1.0 out of 5 stars Not my cup of tea May 14 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. It irritated me that he would never "come clean" about his lack of memory, especially when we find out that the people he worked with could see through it. I have enjoyed other murder-mysteries where the villain was a lot less obvious to the reader. It seems from her sales figures that I am in the minority - what am I missing?
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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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