Book Review – The Face of a Stranger – Anne Perry
Book: The Face of a Stranger
Author: Anne Perry
Year of Release: 1990
Read 345-page paperback edition in October 2016.
This detective novel by British author Anne Perry is the first William Monk book. Detective Monk wakes in the beginning of this novel to find his memory completely void due to an accident with a coach. He has no recollection of who he is, what he was working on, and any other details of his life.
He spends time recovering with his sister and her family, before he gets back to work, investigating a dangerous and highly sensitive murder of a man from high society. As Monk investigates, he realizes he needs to step carefully, given the power family of the murdered man, and the realization that failure or stepping in the wrong direction of political and family intrigue may lead to the end of his career.
Like many series’ of mystery books starring a detective, this first William Monk novel started out somewhat slow, with a lot of setup for the main character and the setting, Victorian London.
Although the novel started out slow, and a big reason was setting up characters and plot, unfortunately this novel really did feel a little stretched out, with it not picking up until much later in the novel. The slow pacing of the novel was almost painful for the first half to two-thirds.
The storyline itself, the murder of Mr. Grey, was an interesting one, with some complexities and political and familial intrigue that added value to the investigation by Monk. The fact he had many characters to interview, both family and otherwise, provided the reader with many suspects to consider as interviews occurred and evidence was slowly uncovered. One issue with the writing was that it sometimes felt a little repetitive, because Monk went back and interviewed people multiple times, over and over. After the first couple of interviews, a third and fourth interview, while it may sometimes uncover a new nuance for the murder investigation, felt a little bit old for the reader.
In summary, Monk was an interesting character, and perhaps in later novels the focus will be more on the investigation and less on repetition and set up and introduction of him as a character. This novel unfortunately did feel that way, and as such was not a great start to this well-known series.
Overall: 2.5 stars out of 5 stars