A tragic accident leaves Inspector Monk with amnesia just moments after he solves the murder of a popular Crimean war hero. Forced to redo his entire investigation, a frustrated Monk faces a desperate murderer who will do anything to keep the inspector from discovering the truth twice.
Crack another case with William Monk.
©1990 Anne Perry; (P)1995 Recorded Books, LLC
trying to see the world with my ears
I'm very glad to see this first book of the Inspector Monk series on Audible. Every time I finish an Anne Perry mystery I wish she had edited the thing just once more to tighten dialogue or tidy plot points, but I keep downloading them. They are engaging, with good setting details of Victoian England and fairly interesting characters. She is not a mistress of atmosphere like P D James, but Perry does consistently create better than average atmospheric light historical mysteries without graphic sex or violence and without too much of the dark side.
Even if you're not enough of a Perry fan to contemplate listening to the entire series, this first instalment has added interest due to the brain injury of the protagonist and a slightly earlier setting than Perry's Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series. By the way, whoever wrote the publisher's summary in the product description obviously did not read the book--Monk's antagonist is his brain injury irself-- that's what most makes this book worth reading.
As detective fiction goes, I enjoyed this and plan to listed to the next in the series. But ditto to the reviewer's comment about the need for more editing. Really tiresome at points -- millions of repetitive, unanswerable questions (who am I?) that can't be answered b/c of total amnesia. In print you can skim that stuff but for audio, I might recommend an abridged version.
I like Davina Porter much better than most narrators, and, for me, narrators are as important as the novel itself.
Wonderful characterizations! Felt like I knew everyone at the end. Monk's haunting memory loss and the method of repeating questions made me think a long time about re-starting relationships using only reactions. Excellent reader, too. The one additional thing I hope for in the remaining books is to share a character's delight in something. All mysteries contain darkness. However, in Agatha Christie and other "cozy mysteries" the cottages, gardens, and seaside are warming. In Patrick O'Brian's rich Aubrey-Maturin series, the music, the sea & nature, etc, engage repeatedly. This Monk novel does include a wonderful estate, and I hope we will roam it much more often in coming books, to smell the roses, tread the leafy paths, perhaps find a ghost in the kitchen. I look forward to the very interesting Monk-Hester relationship.
Seems I will have to purchase the following books. This was a very easy listen. The characters identifiable, however no feeling of attachment. I felt lost at times. Though I did fall asleep on a few occasions. This is worth the purchase by all means. I will follow Anne Perry,s Monk.
I am a retired Court Reporter and I LOVE books. All kinds of books but my favorites are mysteries and period books. I like civil war books and some biographies.
I really do like this series. I wish I had listened to this one first. I've read some of the others out of order.
People always compare mysteries to Agatha Cristie but this book really did remind me of her style of mysteries. Gentle, thoughtful, interesting mysteries but set in Victorian London which contains plenty of seedy dirt to keep you interested. Imagine Hercule Poirot has amnesia and in discovering who he is he finds not only the talent and love of justice but also realizes he's been a complete ass and doesn't like it. (I bet Cristie would have wished she'd thought of this as she grew to find Poirot an intolerable ass) Thats Monk, the main character who must unravel his past as well as a high class mystery. In addition you get the charming, graceful and intelligent young Evan, Monk's idealistic assistant and the no nonsense, piercing wit of Hester, the frustraitting woman in Monk's life. Perry packs these novels with intensely likable characters who are intuitive and empathetic. I think because this book is establishing these characters, it has just a few parts where it runs long but I found it an entirely satisfying listen. This is a character driven, thoughtful mystery so if you want tons of explosions and sex, this is not the series for you. I love the addition of history to such lovely mysteries. (I just started #2 and it seems even better and a bit faster paced) Oh and this is the perfect medium for Davina Porter, who is an excellent narrator and I don't tend to like female narrators.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
So glad Audible has the beginning books in this series. I can now start to read them in order. Have read a few of the latest ones. This book makes everything fall into place. Perry does a great job painting a picture of London/England in the 1850's. The description of the social problems of day shows how far we have come and how easy it might be to fall back into the past again. Can not wait to start the next book to see if Hester and Monk get together. This is the time in history that the role of women began to make major changes then the biggest change came with WWI.
Can an author present too much character development? If so, then "The Face of a Stranger" verges on such excess. It does get a bit tedious listening to William Monk anguishing over his amnesia -- almost to the point of whining. He is, improbably, attempting to hide his amnesia from his acquaintances and co-workers, while continuing to function as a detective. One can semi-understand -- given that he is living in Victorian London, with no disability insurance -- Monk's wanting to conceal his amnesia from his boss; but I kept wondering why he didn't want to tell his loving sister about his affliction, for Pete's sake? Also, speaking of character development, why did Monk's boss start off with a jolly, compassionate, friendly demeanor -- when he visits Monk in the hospital -- then transform into Monk's meanest enemy a few chapters later? "The Face of a Stranger" does have some flaws; but, on the other hand, it introduces an intelligent series that truly brings Victorian times to life. If you like historical fiction -- particularly the Victorian era -- then I think that you will enjoy Anne Perry's novels very much. As an extra, added bonus, the most beautiful female voice in all of Audiobookdom narrates "The Face of a Stranger," practically compensating for this novel's minor shortcomings. Davina Porter possesses not only a beautiful voice, but an exceedingly versatile and expertly trained one, as well. It always gives me immense pleasure to hear her rendering the delightful multitude of British accents, and deftly distinguishing all the characters' voices -- both men and women. "The Face of a Stranger" definitely qualifies as a mystery, but not a thriller. If you like some action and testosterone in your audiobooks, then you probably should give "The Face of a Stranger" a pass. If you like romance novels, then you will also want to bypass this one. "The Face of a Stranger' contains no sex or romance at all. However, historical fiction fans who appreciate well-researched settings and beautiful narration will not regret purchasing this audiobook.
I enjoyed this Monk novel enormously! It extends the plot a little further in a very surprising way, and the details of London's sewers was historically interesting. Ms. Perry has a brilliant way of bringing you into the era as more of a resident than an observer.
Enjoyed the Thomas Pitt books, but this series appeals more. There is more depth to the story and the characters are very well developed. The only problem is there is a gap from books six through eleven in the audio lineup. I ordered these in paperback because I enjoy following a complete story line. Davina Porter is an excellent narrator.
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