The Face of a Stranger (1990, Anne Perry, The Random House Publishing Group)
It was only recently that I took the time to read this novel in full. The blurb at the back cover intrigued me and made me buy the book three or four years ago. Just like with the other books I own, it collected dust in the bookshelf before reading it. Ah, so many books but so little time…
This was the first time I’d be reading an Anne Perry novel and what a good introduction this was. The novel is the first of the William Monk detective series set during the Victorian era right after the Crimean War. A detective story plus a historical fiction would be a nice combination.
The story opens with William Monk waking up in a hospital and realizes that he suffers from amnesia after meeting an accident. He doesn’t know what happened to him, he just digests the details given by the people around him. So he tries to piece all these details together to get to know himself and his environment. What an excruciating experience that would be!
At the same time, he is in a middle of a personal crime investigation before he had an accident and he couldn’t remember what case that was. But his superior, Mr. Runcorn, gave him two weeks more to recover. So Monk decides to visit his sister, which he figured out through some old letters, to get him started remembering his past and who he is.
When Monk returns to work, still with amnesia, Runcorn assigns him to an unsolved murder case of Joscelin Gray, a Crimean War hero and brother of Lord Shelburne — in short, from a well to-do family.
As he tries to solve the mystery, with the help of his partner John Evan, Monk tries to piece his past and the crimes almost simultaneously until he was able to remember an event that would possibly put him as a prime suspect for Grey’s murder.
This is one first book in a series worth having and as I’ve said, a good introduction to Anne Perry’s detective novels and into her style of crime fiction writing. I’m giving it 5 out of 5 stars.