Death of a Stranger

Written by Anne Perry
Review by Ilysa Magnus

I will say it right out: I much prefer Perry’s William Monk series to her Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series, and this installment of the Monk books tells the tale. Monk is a far more interesting, unique and multi-layered character than either of the Pitts. He has chosen a wife, Hester, who appears almost antagonistic to his goals, but she is truly his soulmate and best friend. Monk is a wealth of contradictions, and good for him.

In Death of a Stranger, Perry’s twelfth Monk book, we finally learn the genesis of Monk’s amnesia. I will not, of course, reveal it here. Suffice it to say that, indeed, in his early life, Monk had been a very successful businessman (as he himself has conjectured in his prior stories – owing primarily to his great taste in clothing!) and that his business and business associates were overshadowed by fraud and misrepresentation. When Monk is hired to investigate possible fraudulent practices in the railway industry, it is the jumping off point for his ultimate journey of self-discovery. As Monk becomes aware of the issues necessitating resolution, he is forced to confront himself. Despite his dread that he is, in fact, a terrible person and that he may not be able to deal with those revelations, Monk, in characteristic style, charges full-speed ahead in his investigation.

I am still waiting for Perry, who is unbelievably prolific, to lose her touch. This one has such twists and turns that you never really know what’s going to happen until the denouement. At the finish, I felt even closer to the more human Monk than I had in the first eleven installments.