Dec. 11th, 2014

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The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry

I liked the idea behind this. The MC wakes up in hospital and has no idea who he is, and he has to work out who he is while investigating the crime that is the central story of the book (that being the brutal death of the youngest son of a wealthy family who everyone adores because).

While in hospital he is told the date is the 31st July 1856, which is good because if I hadn't been told that I'd have thought it was 1956. It might as well be, except for the constants mentions of the Crimean War but that could have been changed to something else. Despite that, there isn't that feeling that the author doesn't know what she's talking about. Those things where she goes into detail (i.e. the Crimean War) there is the feeling she does know what she's on about and there's no extra stuff shoved in to show how clever her research was!

The descriptions are odd in places. (The MC's boss is described as "He had a bony face, long nose and wide mouth, a good brow, but deep-set eyes too small the color of easily; a pleasant enough countenance, and intelligent, but showing small signs of temper between the brows and about the lips." Maybe that works for some people but it just makes me go "Eh?"). For investigation moves along, well it doesn't, the MC and his sidekick wander about asking people questions until somewhere near the end he has a revelation, remembers something he'd seen before and all is solve. And in the middle we are shunted off to spend some time with another character all together who goes to stay with the dead guy's family and spends her time thinking about the Crimean War, talking with the family, talking about the Crimean War, thinking about the family until she gets sick of it all and comes home. Quite a few pages after I got sick of it all. Then it's back to the MC who is still wandering about with no idea talking to people, with the occasional visits to the London slums which are wretched hives of scum and villiany inhabited by dying children and bug-ugly bad guys. (How's about a story set in the London slums where they're not shows as hives of scum etc. I mean, people live in these places, their view of them isn't the same as the usual outsider's view.)

Anyway, 'tis easy enough reading and the MC still hasn't worked himself out at the end of the book. But reading reviews for the second book it seems to have the same unmoving plot and moralising. Those who like it/them seem to be keen on the richly textured descriptions of Victorian London the author presents. Maybe they read a different book? I'm thinking I might pass on more, but then again the characters aren't uninteresting, weird descriptions aside.


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