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Posts Tagged ‘Golden Age of Detective Fiction’

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Published: 12 January 2017
Reviewed: 6 January 2017

4 out of 5 stars

Copy provided by Urbane Publications

 

Description:

The second in the Hampstead Murders series opens with a sudden death at an iconic local venue, which some of the team believe may be connected with an unsolved murder featuring Cold War betrayals worthy of George Smiley. It soon emerges that none other than Agatha Christie herself may be the key witness who is able to provide the missing link. As with its bestselling predecessor, Death in Profile, the book develops the lives and loves of the team at ‘Hampstead Nick’. While the next phase of a complicated love triangle plays itself out, the protagonists, struggling to crack not one but two apparently insoluble murders, face issues of national security in working alongside Special Branch. On one level a classic whodunit, this quirky and intelligent read harks back not only to the world of Agatha Christie, but also to the Cold War thrillers of John Le Carre, making it a worthy successor to Death in Profile which was dubbed ‘a love letter to the detective novel

My Thoughts & Review:

Having enjoyed the first in the Hampstead Murder series by Guy Fraser-Sampson I was delighted to be offered the chance to read and review Miss Christie Regrets.  I should add that the first book is titled Death in Profile and is a wonderful homage to the Golden Age detective story writers such as Dorothy L Sayers and Agatha Christie.

The setting of this book would feel very much at home within the pages of an Agatha Christie novel penned over 30 years ago, and yet it seems to work in this modern day take of a classic crime novel.
The reader is once again in Hampstead and where a murder has occurred, and unbeknownst to the murderer is the fact that Detective Karen Willis is visiting an exhibition at the museum in her free time.  This leaves visit leaves Willis in a slightly awkward position when the cavalry is called in.  The awkwardness of a love triangle between Willis, her colleague and lover Bob Metcalfe, and boyfriend Peter Collins adds a personal element to the plot, one which allows for wonderful character development.

The plot is such that I really do not want to spoil it, it is intelligent and well crafted.  There are some wonderful references to Golden Age techniques and figures prominent in that era which add a layer of sophistication to this as well as an authenticity.

Karen Willis is an interesting character, adapting to her surrounding and company like a chameleon.  When in the presence of boyfriend Peter Collins she adopts a more “dated” and somewhat elegant persona, attending art exhibitions and events that would comfortably sit in decades long since passed.  Yet when she is in the company of Bob Metcalfe she reflects a much more modern character, even her dress sense is altered in the modern setting.  The idea that she was a different person depending on the company she was intriguing.

I absolutely loved the cameo of the Queen of Crime, her appearance as a key witness was wonderful and very well written.

I appreciate that some people may not like this book, it may be too “cozy” for some, there is no gratuitous violence, it’s not dark and gritty but it is a lovely change of pace from a gruesome and dark thriller.

You can buy a copy of Miss Christie Regrets directly from the publisher here or via Amazon here.


About the Author:

Guy Fraser-Sampson is an established writer, having published not only fiction but also books on a diverse range of subjects including finance, investment, economics and cricket. His darkly disturbing economic history The Mess We’re In was nominated for the Orwell Prize. His Mapp & Lucia novels have all been optioned by BBC TV, and have won high praise from other authors including Alexander McCall Smith, Gyles Brandreth and Tom Holt. The second was featured in an exclusive interview with Mariella Forstrup on Radio 4, and Guy’s entertaining talks on the series have been heard at a number of literary events including the Sunday Times Festival in Oxford and the Daily Telegraph Festival in Dartington. With Death in Profile he begins a new series entitled The Hampstead Murders. Set in and around the iconic North London village, the first book in the series sees a team of detectives pursuing a serial sex killer while internal politics and a love triangle threaten to destabilise the enquiry. Harking back (sometimes explicitly) to the Golden Age of detective writing, Death in Profile introduces us to a group of likeable central characters whose loves, eccentricities and career ups and downs will be developed throughout the series. Very different from the contemporary model of detective novel, Guy’s innovative style and approach has been endorsed by leading crime writers such as Christopher Brookmyre and Ruth Dugdall.

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Published: 17 March 2016
Reviewed: 15 May 2016

4 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Urbane Publications

 

Description:

The genteel façade of London’s Hampstead is shattered by a series of terrifying murders, and the ensuing police hunt is threatened by internal politics, and a burgeoning love triangle within the investigative team. Pressurised by senior officers desperate for a result a new initiative is clearly needed, but what?

Intellectual analysis and police procedure vie with the gut instinct of ‘copper’s nose’, and help appears to offer itself from a very unlikely source – a famous fictional detective. A psychological profile of the murderer allows the police to narrow down their search, but will Scotland Yard lose patience with the team before they can crack the case?
Praised by fellow authors and readers alike, this is a truly original crime story, speaking to a contemporary audience yet harking back to the Golden Age of detective fiction. Intelligent, quirky and mannered, it has been described as ‘a love letter to the detective novel’. Above it all hovers Hampstead, a magical village evoking the elegance of an earlier time, and the spirit of mystery-solving detectives.

My Thoughts & Review:

I’ve had notes written down about this book for months, but can’t believe that I’ve never actually moved this review from more than draft stage *bad reviewer*

Death in Profile encapsulates the feel of classic crime and is a wonderful change of pace from the modern day gritty (and sometimes gory) crime novels.
Written as a more intellectual crime novel as opposed to an action thriller, the story focuses on the investigation into the deaths of 5 women in Hampstead in London.

The characters in this are absolutely great, they are engaging and interesting, the author takes great care to ensure that they are portrayed well throughout the book.  I especially liked the dynamic between the “old school” detective and the “new school” detective, their differing techniques and approached to investigating were very well detailed and interesting to read.

The mystery in the story is superbly created, red herrings and twists aplenty to keep the reader guessing throughout.  My smug feeling that I had worked out “whodunnit” was short lived when turned the page – foiled!  There are clues scattered throughout the narrative, and it is possible to work out the culprit, it’s quite nice to feel that that you are piecing the clues together along with the detectives, trying to work it all out.

I appreciate that some people may not like this book, it may be too “cozy” for some, there is no gratuitous violence, it’s not dark and gritty.  Think Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers, back to the Golden Age of detective stories and you will be on the right track for this book, it’s a lovely change of pace from a gruesome and dark thriller.

I  don’t usually comment on the cover of books, purely because I am bad for being attracted by an interesting cover….yes I admit it, I sometimes only pick a book when my eye is caught by a cover….
But in this instance, I will make mention of the lovely cover.  The blood spatter over the artwork is brilliant, I absolutely love it!  It gives a hint towards what lies inside the book, there’s almost an eerie feeling emanating from it which adds to the intrigue.

I eagerly look forward to the next book from Guy Fraser-Sampson.

You can buy a copy of Death in Profile here.

 

About the Author:

Guy Fraser-Sampson is an established writer, having published not only fiction but also books on a diverse range of subjects including finance, investment, economics and cricket. His darkly disturbing economic history The Mess We’re In was nominated for the Orwell Prize. His Mapp & Lucia novels have all been optioned by BBC TV, and have won high praise from other authors including Alexander McCall Smith, Gyles Brandreth and Tom Holt. The second was featured in an exclusive interview with Mariella Forstrup on Radio 4, and Guy’s entertaining talks on the series have been heard at a number of literary events including the Sunday Times Festival in Oxford and the Daily Telegraph Festival in Dartington. With Death in Profile he begins a new series entitled The Hampstead Murders. Set in and around the iconic North London village, the first book in the series sees a team of detectives pursuing a serial sex killer while internal politics and a love triangle threaten to destabilise the enquiry. Harking back (sometimes explicitly) to the Golden Age of detective writing, Death in Profile introduces us to a group of likeable central characters whose loves, eccentricities and career ups and downs will be developed throughout the series. Very different from the contemporary model of detective novel, Guy’s innovative style and approach has been endorsed by leading crime writers such as Christopher Brookmyre and Ruth Dugdall.

 

 


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