This review appeared earlier and is reprinted here.
The Face of a Stranger (William Monk #1) by Anne Perry
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 difficult, since he’s forgotten his professional skills along with everything else…
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, ever. But this is about a different character, so it was possible that it would be enjoyable.
This is a classic example of how NOT to write a mystery, IMO. It starts with Detective William Monk awaking in a hospital to find that he is very weak, injured, and that he doesn’t remember anything at all, even his name or how he got there. He returns home and searches for clues all over his flat to find anything that will help trigger a memory. When nothing helps, he goes to visit his sister. On his return to London, he gets sent to investigate a crime that occurred the same night he had his accident, the murder of a popular gentleman with a titled family. Someone beat Joscelin Gray to death.
So far, it could have been a good book. We’ve got both the mystery of Monk’s past and the mystery of murder. But the writing was so darn bad that I really couldn’t finish the book. I was listening to it, which means that it took stinking forever to finish, so I finally gave up and got a paper copy at the library so I could skim through to the end.
The main thing that turned me off was the way the writer stuck interior monologue in the middle of PRACTICALLY EVERY CONVERSATION! So Monk is questioning someone, and then randomly thinks, “I wonder what kind of man I was before my accident. I wonder if I liked music. Did I have a girlfriend? Did I like pie? Why can’t I remember?” and on, and on, and on, while the actual conversation just sort of hangs there until Monk comes to his senses and starts paying attention again.
And the other main character, Hester Latterly, does the same thing. She’ll be listening to some discussion of the Crimean war and have a flashback to her service there as a nurse and we’ll get a page of her reminiscences. I know we all do that from time to time, let our minds wander now and then, but it’s really super boring to listen to! Even reading it was bad enough, but at least then I could skip ahead a couple of paragraphs.
I know that this series, and her other one, have some fans, but I am not reading anymore by this author. One series is too dark, and this one is too dumb. The writing itself is not very good and the style is extremely irritating. 1 star.