Magical, mysterious and memorable, that is a fair description of the new book from this talented author. It promises “Blackmail, Deceit and Murder”, and definitely delivers with a cast of characters who each have their own agenda in this novel written with real flair. Instead of a large country house, in this murder mystery novel a large pleasure boat in New Zealand is the background for a house party with a wide range of guests. This is the second book in which the unique and skilful Elliott and Thorne exercise their remarkable skills in detection and far more, joined not only by labrador Veronique,but the beautiful Giselle bringing her own abilities and insights. This is the second book in the Versipellis series, but this book can be read as a stand alone as each character’s entry into the story is well described. There is a definite element of the supernatural in this book which adds greatly to the unique nature of the novel.
This book brings in red herrings, murder and much more to make it an engaging and intense read. The investigators are really unusual in every respect, as their memories and past stories indicate that they are more than just good detectives. It is this that makes it more than a straightforward mystery. The setting is unusual being the party on a boat with groups of entertainers of various kinds, relatives, trouble makers, servants and staff. There is a clever impression that no one is quite safe, and there are certainly no easy answers to any of the questions posed in this book. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this unusual, mystical book.
A millionaire philanthropist, Octavious Damant, has a past secret and a very present concern. His daughter is about to turn twenty one, though he has more than usual worries about her as an innocent young woman. He consults a local friend in New Zealand, who remembers a past promise and summons Thorne and Elliott. Other people also arrive for a party to celebrate the birthday. There are a lot of characters to remember who also appear under more than one name. I used the back of the book to check which character was which frequently! As the book continues and everyone is installed on the boat it becomes much more focused and the crime of murder is a shock when it occurs.
This is such an intense read and so cleverly plotted. The author is so skilful at managing a lot of characters well as well as describing the steamer’s layout so carefully that it feels possible to navigate round the vessel, especially with the diagrams provided in the front of the book. The characters soon become very three dimensional people, with all their mannerisms and distinctive dialogue. There are surprises to be found about many of the people on board, which are always well presented. This is a deeply impressive and engaging book, with so many themes and elements to think about. It is obviously the product of a lot of careful thought, construction and plotting, and the mystical element adds an extra dimension to what is an incredible read of historical crime in an unusual setting.
This is a challenging read for a time when I am trying to round up those lovely books I have eagerly bought over the last few years (!) and not well, actually read. So apart from new books that may well appear on this blog, I am hoping to review older titles. Remember that many independent booksellers are still operating on a order and post out basis, so no one should be left without reading material. Also some small publishers are keeping the postal services busy – why not check https://foxedquarterly.com/ or http://www.persephonebooks.co.uk/ for some unusual but brilliant books?