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The Face of a Stranger (William Monk #1)

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  10,749 Ratings  ·  670 Reviews
His name, they tell him, is William Monk, and he is a London police detective. But the accident that felled him has left him with only half a life; his memory and his entire past have vanished. As he tries to hide the truth, Monk returns to work and is assigned to investigate the brutal murder of a Crimean War hero and man about town. Which makes Monk's efforts doubly diff ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 11th 2011 by Fawcett (first published 1990)
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Best Historical Mystery
31st out of 1,317 books — 3,349 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 28, 2016 Carmen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
A man wakes up in a hospital after a carriage accident in 1856 with no idea of who he his or what his life has been like. He doesn't remember his name or his profession.

He is told that he is William Monk, police detective. And he is immediately assigned to a very difficult murder case. A member of the aristocracy, Joscelin Grey, was beaten to death in his own home. Can Monk, a man who doesn't even recognize his own face, solve this baffling mystery and keep his job?

This book was amazing.

Mar 05, 2010 AnnaMay rated it really liked it
I felt like clapping as I set down this book after finishing it. I thought it was so fun to read. I actually reached out and patted the book with glee a few times and chuckled to myself once setting it down. :) I can't say many books have entertained me in such a way. I think the complexity of the storyline really had me going. I'm afraid I'm 'hooked.'

I'm so glad Perry was accurate in her account of the 'slums' and the conditions of Victorian times. I appreciated her strictness in presenting soc
Kirsten *Dogs Welcome - People Tolerated"
Jun 16, 2016 Kirsten *Dogs Welcome - People Tolerated" rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kirsten *Dogs Welcome - People Tolerated" by: 1990 Agatha Award nominee
I should've read this long ago. I have always been a fan of Anne Perry's Thomas and Charlotte Pitt novels, but for some reason I hadn't read her William Monk series yet. I am so glad I did! Monk is a muddle of a man. So many contradicting emotions. Hester is a wonderful character. Anne Perry puts such strong women in her books set in anti-woman Victorian England. (You'd think a country ruled by a woman would be more progressive!) And Evans is a delight. Can't wait to see more of this.
Jamie Collins
This is the first book in an historical mystery series set in Victorian England. It features a police detective who is suffering from amnesia, so while he's solving the murder he's also trying to discover what kind of person he used to be.

It's well written, if occasionally repetitive and often preachy (war is not glamorous, slums and workhouses are bad, classism is unfair, women are marginalized, etc.). I liked Monk and the other major characters, and I look forward to reading more in this serie
Mar 30, 2009 Cynthiaj rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
It got me hooked on Monk and friends. What a change from modern mysteries/police dramas. The insight into period detail and how it relates to police investigation was nice, but I have found Perry is just a really good story teller. I've read all the Monk books the local library has...
Apr 30, 2013 Jacquelyn rated it really liked it
This is the first in a Victorian mystery series, and it starts with a twist: Monk, our protagonist, has woken in a hospital (not a nice place to be in Victorian England) with amnesia. He discovers he's a police inspector almost right away, but subtle clues-- the fact that no one has visited him in his convalescence, or seems particularly excited he's returned to work-- allow him to piece together a picture of his former life that is rather unpleasant. In other words, Monk appears to have been so ...more
Themes: identity, crime, war, family, secrets, memory, class
Setting: Victorian England

Now I remember why I don't read Anne Perry anymore. I don't really like her writing. This book sounded like a change from her Thomas/Charlotte Pitt series, which I did enjoy at one time. I just got a little tired of reading about the seamy side of Victorian life, and she explored deviance in all its forms, the worst crimes she could imagine, and on and on and on. There wasn't much to smile about in her books, e
Nov 08, 2012 Dorrie rated it really liked it
I am in love with the William Monk mystery series by Anne Perry! "The Face of a Stranger" is the first book of ten. It is set in Victorian England and is replete with vivid descriptions of life during that time period. The book frequently addresses the great disparity that exists between the rich and the poor in Victorian England. A decorated English officer who served in the recent Crimean War is found murdered. William Monk, the brilliant local police detective, is called in to investigate the ...more
Feb 22, 2016 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
William monk is a good detective who gets results, but when an accident robs him of his memory....something he chooses to hide from his colleagues....he finds himself not only trying to solve a particularly brutal and perplexing murder, but also searching for clues to his own identity and past.

This book has a high rating, but it didn't quite work for me....
The murder mystery is very good, the writing is good too. There are some interesting characters, and lots of historical background which give
Jan 11, 2016 ~Geektastic~ rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: mystery lovers, people interested in realistic Victorian historical fiction,
Recommended to ~Geektastic~ by: Dan
Set in London in the 1850s (no dates are given, but the Crimean War is prominent), The Face of a Stranger is the first in a 20-volume series of novels featuring detective William Monk. In an inventive twist, Monk is not introduced like Holmes or Peter Wimsey, with a full set of eccentricities and inhuman brilliance, but as a completely blank slate- he has total amnesia. I don’t have much experience in the detective genre, but like anyone else present in the current glut of Sherlock Holmes remake ...more
Tiffany Wacaser
Mar 14, 2011 Tiffany Wacaser rated it it was amazing
It took me forever to read this, not because the story wasn't compelling, but finding the time to sit and read was difficult.

When I read this book, I was reminded anew why I consider Anne Perry to be a genius. Her stories are well-crafted with impeccable details. But even those great attributes aren't what make her great. Her true gift as a writer is her ability to see and understand human nature and to describe so clearly that you can't help but recognize it immediately.

With lines like these y
Jul 09, 2016 Diane rated it really liked it
Recommended to Diane by: Bonnie Darnell
Interesting concept - Detective Monk awakens in a hospital with no memory of who he is or what happened to him. He is gradually learning about his life and himself while solving a murder. Enjoyable read.
Sep 10, 2008 Brandi rated it really liked it
I read this for book club and the book club leader LOVES William Monk books and has read about 10 of them. It was really hard for me to get in to for about 50 pages. There is so much description of that era that bored me for a while but by the end of the book, I could totally imagine what it would be like to live there in that time. She is a great author and the story ended up being great. It's full of twists and turns and it's a neat idea that the person telling the story is figuring things out ...more
Feb 01, 2015 Lori rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-fiction
Considering this, Anne Perry's first William Monk book, has been out since 1990, I am surprised I have not yet read any of her work. I very much enjoyed this story. Set in Victorian England, Ms. Perry does a wonderful job capturing the essence of that time in an admirably unglamorous way: the poverty, unhygienic conditions, class distinctions and the oppression of women. Although interesting to visit there via this story, one cannot doubt how difficult a time it would have been to live in if you ...more
Aug 12, 2014 Hilary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every time I pick up an Anne Perry book I'm blown away by how real the characters and setting feel to me. I love her use of language, and her portrayals of varied characters, and the use of the relatively-unfamiliar-in-fiction Crimean war puts a different twist on the era while educating the reader in the battle tactics and medical skills available (and small snippets of information, such as nurses typically being male). Her female characters act within the expected societal strictures but are n ...more
Apr 23, 2012 JBradford rated it really liked it
After reading more than 1700 pages through the last two volumes, it was time to get away from Safehold, which must be thousands of years in the future, and the next-read mystery from the last century wasn’t enough, so I dipped into this Victorian mystery, scrounged from a hospital waiting room, and found it delightful. The cover illustration characterizing the novel as “featuring Inspector Monk,” which suggests that Ms. Perry has written other novels about him, as well as her Victorian mystery s ...more
Chris Demer
Nov 30, 2013 Chris Demer rated it really liked it
I found this book engrossing and a great read. Set in the 1850's in London, a Detective finds himself in a hospital, having suffered severe injuries in a hansom cab accident.

The most serious injury however is that he has lost his memory! At first he doesn't even recognize himself, his flat, his landlady---anybody or anyplace that should have meaning for him. He is quite terrified about this predicament, but determined not to let anyone know. His superior assigns him a new case when he returns to
I loved Kate Ross's 'Julian Kestrel' Series and Ashley Gardner's 'Captain Lacey' series and I have been looking for another series that I might enjoy as much. This looked like it might have promise.

I've read the first two books in this series over the course of just a few days. I will say that I liked the first one enough to run out to the library just before they closed so that I could pick up number two in the series even though I have a ridiculous number of books already waiting to be read i
Gwen Mayo
Sep 28, 2011 Gwen Mayo rated it really liked it
In this Victorian era mystery by Anne Perry, William Monk, a London police detective, wakes up in a hospital ward and fears he has been reduced to living in a workhouse. Monk is a man haunted by a past he can't remember and the ever present fear that the stranger in the mirror won't be able to bluff his way through the everyday duties of a police detective.

Assigned to solve the murder of a young aristocrat wounded in the Crimean War, Monk must quickly master detective work while trying to hold
Robin (RBBR)
Jan 02, 2011 Robin (RBBR) rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ana T.
Feb 07, 2008 Ana T. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: victorian
This was my first read by Anne Perry. I had heard of her before but I only got really curious after Rosario started posting about her books and making them sound so interesting.

His name, they tell him, is William Monk, and he is a London police detective. His mirror reflects a face that women would like, but from the way people respond to him when he returns to the force, he senses that he has been more feared than loved.

The case Monk is given is particularly sensational one: the brutal murder o
Dec 30, 2013 Megan rated it it was ok
Do not believe the reviews: This is not a 'richly-textured' historical book at all. Any historical context is as bare as bones; with a few minor changes, the novel could be as easily set in Renaissance England, or modern-day London, as in the Victorian time period where it is in fact set. Not even as a mystery does it work: The characters advance completely by guesswork for the first three-fourths of the novel, making huge jumps in logic and intuition, all in no way supported by the actual evide ...more
Persis Menon
May 02, 2015 Persis Menon rated it it was amazing
I must say I stumbled along with Monk trying to make sense of the whole Grey murder. I especially enjoyed the way Monk kept thinking and wanting to remember and understand what is happening and what had happened before the accident. We see Monk simultaneously judging the person he might have been before and making serious changes to his past behavior.
Rebecca Huston
A good first novel to kick off the series. The hero/detective William Monk awakes in a hospital in 1850's London without a memory of who he is, or what brought him there. In uncovering the truth behind the murder of an aristocrat, Monk meets Hester Latterly, a nurse who has returned from the Crimean War, and some very unpleasant things about himself. Four stars overall.

For the longer review, please go here:
Dec 28, 2014 Paul rated it really liked it
Two mysteries for the price of one! Who is William Monk, detective (and protagonist)? Who killed Jocelin Grey, nobleman and Crimean War hero?

The story introduces us to our detective as he awakes in the hospital with amnesia. He's in London; it's 1856. He's been told his name, but everything else is a mystery: his career, background, ambitions, personality. The story's narrator most often follows Monk, with a few notable sections devoted to other characters, so his actions and insights form the c
Dec 16, 2015 Lauren rated it really liked it
It is 19th Century England. William Monk wakes up in the hospital with no memory of who he is, what his life is like, or what happened to him. Only when his boss visits him in the hospital does he find out his name and that he is a police detective. Because he needs to support his livelihood, Monk goes back to work and is put on a murder case that could mark the end of his career. It is the brutal murder of Major Joscelin Gray.

Monk attempts to hide his memory loss from everyone around him and m
Feb 20, 2014 Anne rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, britain, 2014
3.5 - 4 stars. At times a bit slow, but otherwise engaging and readable. Great character development, especially considering this is the first in a series.
Andich Mohamed
Un recorrido por la Inglaterra victoriana, que nos lleva de la aristocracia a los bajos fondos.

La investigación es doble: se busca quién es el asesino y, a la vez, el detective trata de recobrar su identidad tras perder la memoria a causa de un accidente al arrancar la novela, recurso que permite a la autora ir construyendo el personaje ante el lector a lo largo del libro.

La época. El prestigio social de la policía no estaba todavía asentado. De ahí la dificultad de hurgar en los secretos de la
Jul 07, 2010 Moontyger rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, historical
Yes, I'm very behind on writing these. And they don't seem to have an image of the edition I have uploaded.

Anyway, so this is the first William Monk novel. I have actually read several of the later ones, which might make reading this one seem odd, but actually, I really enjoyed it. I was a little surprised; there was at least one other of Perry's early books that I'd read and found not very well-written, but this one was quite good.

She sets it in the Victorian age without romanticizing the peri
Oct 07, 2012 Bee rated it really liked it
William Monk is a detective in Victorian-era London, working on solving a complex case involving the murder of a young nobleman, Joscelin Grey. The catch? The book opens with him in the hospital, recovering from a carriage accident and with memory loss so severe that he can't even remember his own name or what he looks like. I was instantly drawn to his character as he comes to the realization that whoever William Monk was, he did not seem to be a very nice or well-liked man. This unusual premis ...more
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Anne Perry (born Juliet Hulme) is a British historical novelist.

Juliet took the name "Anne Perry," the latter being her stepfather's surname. Her first novel, The Cater Street Hangman, was published under this name in 1979. Her works generally fall into one of several categories of genre fiction, including historical murder mysteries and detective fiction. Many of them feature a number of recurrin
More about Anne Perry...

Other Books in the Series

William Monk (1 - 10 of 23 books)
  • A Dangerous Mourning (William Monk, #2)
  • Defend and Betray (William Monk, #3)
  • A Sudden, Fearful Death (William Monk, #4)
  • The Sins of the Wolf (William Monk, #5)
  • Cain His Brother (William Monk, #6)
  • Weighed in the Balance (William Monk, #7)
  • The Silent Cry (William Monk, #8)
  • A Breach of Promise (William Monk, #9)
  • The Twisted Root (William Monk, #10)
  • Slaves of Obsession (William Monk, #11)

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