Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: Headline
Release Date: November 2002
ISBN: 0747268959
Format Reviewed: Hardback
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Mystery / Historical Crime (London 1862)
Reviewer: Rachel A Hyde
Reviewer Notes:

Death of a Stranger
A William Monk Mystery
By  Anne Perry  

     Reading an Anne Perry novel is like opening a parcel that is concealed with layers of wrapping. Unguessable denouements and surprising twists and turns are to be expected and it is at this that she excels, as well as neatly exposing the seamy underbelly of Victorian society. Monk and Hester are back for their thirteenth adventure, with Hester running a voluntary hospital for sick and injured prostitutes in grim Coldbath Square. When the injuries start getting increasingly suspicious and severe, it is perhaps unsurprising that they will culminate in the discovery of a body - but this is the body of respected railway magnate Nolan Baltimore. Meanwhile, Monk is investigating the dead man's company on behalf of Katrina Harcus, a pretty young woman who is to marry one of Baltimore & Sons key employees. What he will uncover will shock him to the core for it has a direct bearing on his lost past, and will give him the chance to uncover more about the man he used to be.

      After writing so many books, one might expect that Anne Perry might start to become over repetitive and stale, but this is not so; this novel was as thrilling as ever, with the added dimension of allowing the reader a glimpse into Monk's murky past. This is a superbly paced and plotted book, replete with page-turning suspense as well as social comment and a gripping courtroom scene. As ever, it all ends rather abruptly and as usual I wished that this had been otherwise, but unlike A Funeral in Blue (also reviewed for this site) in a fitting and suitable manner. Monk and Hester operate as two different people and have not become such a cozily married couple as the Pitts, so let us hope that they never do so. As it is, much of the cut and thrust of their former relationship seems to have dissipated in a way that does not seem quite possible, but they remain two forceful and charismatic characters nonetheless, and a chance to peer into Monk's past is most welcome. As ever, her description of 19th century life is outstanding and the whole is a vastly entertaining treat, replete with the sort of high drama (dare I say melodrama?) that the Victorians themselves loved. More please…

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