Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Face of a Stranger (William Monk, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Face of a Stranger (William Monk, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Face of a Stranger

(William Monk #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  13,847 ratings  ·  934 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Face of a Stranger, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Face of a Stranger

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  13,847 ratings  ·  934 reviews

Sort order
Sep 07, 2018 rated it liked it
The face of a stranger is the first volume in William Monk series, a victorian mystery with an interesting detective. At the beginning of this book we meet the MC in a hospital suffering from amnesia. He doesn't remember who he is and what happened to him and we conveniently learn more about him as he discovers himself. He cannot allow his colleagues from work to know that he no longer remembers his job and as a result he is thrown in a crime investigation soon after he is recovers physically. H ...more
Feb 01, 2014 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.

Cathrine ☯️
Definitely not often a crime novel is written by an author who committed a brutal premeditated murder at the age of fifteen. Her former name was Juliet Marion Hulme and the disturbing movie Heavenly Creatures with Kate Winslet was based on her story, though with no input from her. There are two books about her on Goodreads. I discovered this information just before I started reading this, her first of over forty novels. I admit to being overly intrigued after reading in a Guardian interview
Apr 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kirsten by: 1990 Agatha Award nominee
Shelves: bookshelf
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.
Mar 05, 2010 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
May 29, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As an historical fiction fan, I am embarrassed that it has taken me so long to discover Anne Perry. This first in the William Monk series was superb. There is a tension to this story as we work alongside Monk to discover who he himself is. He is suffering from total memory loss after an accident. He realises he is actually not a nice person and also that his job hangs precariously by a thread as his boss sets him up for a fall. He must solve a murder that has everyone baffled and time is of the ...more
Review written April 4, 2018

4 Strong Stars - Great serial opener

Book #1 in a new for me historical mystery serial. Set in London 1856 with the main character the police detective William Monk. The Face of a Strangeris the serial opener from 1990 and the firts of 24 book parts so far (still a new one next to every year as it looks).

A very HAPPY EASTER 🥚🐣🐥 read. Got hooked from start and just wish to start the second book.


« His name, they tell him, i
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
One of the best books I've read in the last 12 months. Characters were complex, flawed, and authentic. Dialogue rang true. The mystery was good and not capable of being figured out with any certainty until close to the end. In candor, I've avoided reading any Anne Perry books until now because of my discomfort with the author's ability to get away with murder with a slap on the wrist several decades ago. It's been my loss.
Mar 30, 2009 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...
Dec 08, 2013 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
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
This novel started really strong for me, great writing, but the mystery was obvious (I saw the big "twists" coming very early on) and the post WWI theme was done with a heavy hand (too many repetition of the horror of war and its consequences).
I liked it, but did not wow me, not sure whether I'll continue this series.
Jacquelyn Gill
Apr 30, 2013 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
Dec 06, 2012 rated it liked it
I feel like I should like Anne Perry more than I actually do. I went through a "Charlotte and Thomas Pitt" phase a few years ago and gobbled up about ten of those before realizing I was basically reading the same book over and over again.

Ms. Perry is absolutely a talented writer and she's quite adept at setting a stage. Its almost effortless to find yourself immersed in the grimy, class conscious, corrupt world of Victorian England. Her research is also impressive and you can be sure of historic
Nov 07, 2012 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
Sep 20, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series
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
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anne Perry creates the world of England at the time of the Crimean war. I am confronted with the class system of the society at that time. I feel the chill of rain and fog as the less fortunate experience it. This first in the Inspector Monk series is captivating and exciting. I may have read some books in the series but now I am going to enjoy going through them in order.
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Face of a Stranger is book one in the William Monk series by Anne Perry. Coming home from investigating a case Inspector William Monk was involved in an accident that left him with amnesia. Not wanting to lose his job he went back to work. The readers of The Face of a Stranger will follow Inspector William Monk to see how he covered his memory loss and still found the killer of Joscelin Grey.

The Face of a Stranger is the first book I read in this series, and I enjoyed reading this book. The
Jun 10, 2014 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
Amy Reade
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wanted to start reading Anne Perry's Monk series from the beginning, and I'm glad I did. This was a great foundation to a series I'm looking forward to reading, and it was an intriguing mystery that held my interest all the way through. The author obviously knows her subject material very well, and the historical details infuse the book with richness and authenticity. Can't wait to read Book #2!
Tiffany Wacaser
Mar 14, 2011 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
Kathryn Bashaar
Dec 10, 2017 rated it liked it
I loved the premise of this book: Inspector William Monk awakens in a hospital bed and can't remember who he is. As he receives visitors, he pieces together that he is a police inspector, but he remembers little else.
The story takes place right after the Crimean War, and Monk is placed on a high-profile case: to solve the murder of an aristocratic young man who was wounded in the war. He gets the sense that his superior wants him to fail. Clues are hard to come by and, all the while he is tryin
Aug 25, 2008 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
Jan 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Anne Perry is a dark, brooding writer (works for me!) and William Monk was one of my first crushes (don't TELL me he's fictional!). And there's something very exciting about reading a first book in a series, especially if it's by an author you already know and enjoy. It's exciting and a little scary (like getting married, in a way but although disappointment is always...well, disappointing, it's a lot easier than if the real thing goes sour!

But I was never disappointed in this series. In fact,
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book! Way more than I expected to. There was one section where the character of Hester was introduced and you sort of get to know her. I was a little bored during that. But otherwise I was quite glued to it and wanting to read which is always a good sign!

I like William Monk. He's likeable and you want him to do well and overcome his amnesia and the barriers he runs into in solving his case.

I will absolutely keep reading these books!
Detective Monk wakes from a coma in a Victorian London hospital not remembering anything about the criminal he was chasing when his accident happened. He can't remember anything. He realizes if he does not solve the crime he has been entrusted he will be pushed out of the police force.
In a word, brilliant! I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery and Victorian London coming to life in the pages.
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't get what this is trying to be. It seems like maybe it wants to be a serious historical novel, but then the plot relies on a case of silly bonk-on-the-head amnesia. The characters are mainly insufferable. Loose ends never get tied up. Even the amazing Davina Porter could not save the audio version.
Jun 21, 2016 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.
Apr 23, 2012 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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Blind Justice (Sir John Fielding, #1)
  • Whom the Gods Love (Julian Kestrel Mysteries, #3)
  • Wings of Fire (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #2)
  • To Kingdom Come (Barker & Llewelyn, #2)
  • An Excellent Mystery (The Cadfael Chronicles, #11)
  • Death at Bishop's Keep (Kathryn Ardleigh, #1)
  • Murder on Gramercy Park (Gaslight Mystery, #3)
  • Cursed in the Blood (Catherine LeVendeur, #5)
  • A Free Man of Color (Benjamin January, #1)
  • When Gods Die (Sebastian St. Cyr, #2)
  • The Novice's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #1)
  • The Bohemian Girl (Denton, #2)
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

Other books in the series

William Monk (1 - 10 of 24 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)
“Too many women waste their lives grieving because they do not have something other people tell them they should want. Whether you are happy or not depends to some degree upon outward circumstances, but mostly it depends how you choose to look at things yourself, whether you measure what you have or what you have not.” 24 likes
“Be aware that you can truly help people only by aiding them to become what they are, not what you are. I have heard you say 'If I were you, I would do this, or that.' 'I' am never 'you'--and my solutions may not be yours.” 18 likes
More quotes…