This is the second book in a lovely series in the style of the Golden Age detectives. It centres on a murder in the Isokon where once Agatha Christie lived!
The Hampstead Murders #2
I’m thrilled by the second book in the series! First of all Dame Agatha Christie is my favourite author; secondly, I love a classic detective story with a twist and that is what this crime novel is all about. There is also the pleasure of reconnecting with Detective Superintendent Simon Collinson and Detective Sergeants Bob Metcalfe and Karen Willis. A murder takes place in a museum and somehow Dame Agatha Christie is involved. Come with me to Hampstead and exercise the little grey cells!
The place is set and we are back in Hampstead, just north-west of London’s Charing Cross in the Burgh House Museum. A murder took place right under the nose of Detective Sergeant Karen Willis who was visiting with her boyfriend Peter Collins. Those who have read ‘Death in Profile’ may remember psychologist Collins. Once again Detective Chief Inspector Tom Allen is in charge. After Tom Allen had to make place for DSI Simon Collinson in the first book of the series, he was assigned to investigate a prison murder. DCI Allen doubts whether he will bring a culprit to justice but knows his final report on the case is long overdue. He is happy to work on a new murder: that of the manager of Burgh House who appears to have been killed with an old police truncheon. As DS Bob Metcalfe is called to the scene it is painful for him to see the woman he loves with her boyfriend.
It is a complicated situation as both Bob Metcalfe and Peter Collins are in love with Karen Willis. Bob is the one she favours and pictures her future with. Peter is her escape to another world and another time: that of the Golden Age era and its detectives, of elegant soirees and visits to museums and other places with an atmosphere of earlier eras. With Peter Karen’s appearance is that of someone who could very well be living in a past era and with Bob in mind Karen dresses in jeans and modern clothes. Two men in two worlds: a difficult decision to make. Is it going to be the real world with Bob or the fantasy one she has created with Peter? On top of that Peter and Bob know and respect each other. That leaves Karen in an agonising dilemma because she loves both men and cannot stand it that one will be hurt and the other has to live with her feeling of guilt hanging over their relationship.
Speaking of times long gone: a body is discovered hidden in a suitcase that was stored in the basement of an old but remarkable building: The Isokon, an “iconic block of flats on Lawn Road”, inspired by architect Gropius and built by a renowned Englishman, was once inhabited by some famous residents among them Agatha Christie. Did you know that the Queen of Suspense is also a Golden Age Detective as is Dorothy Sayers? Because DCI Allen has already got his hands full with the prison murder and the death in Burgh House which makes it the perfect opportunity for DSI Simon Collinson to expand his experience in the field before continuing with his fast-tracked career. Collinson loves to be active once again and what better murder to solve than one that originates in the forties of the last century? This must be an intriguing case and Collinson is eager to start investigating.
Once again Collinson crosses paths with Allen as it turns out that the victim in Allen’s case was putting together an exhibition about the Isokon building and its former inhabitants. Where the Burgh House murder seems an open and shut case with four possible suspects, in fact, anyone could have entered the museum, committed the murder without being seen. And what is the motive? Where does the exhibition fit in and what is the connection to the Isokon building? Was the body in the suitcase murdered during the time Agatha Christie was one of the residents? They were disconcerting times with the upcoming Communism, the Spanish Civil War and the whole of Europe on the verge of WWII. Follow the Hampstead Detectives once again on their path to unravel the mysteries and find a culprit for the murder in the present as well as the one from the past.
Miss Christie regrets – what is there she could possibly regret? Apart from the well-known stories about the ten days she was missing and her unhappy first marriage? Why should the author with her brilliant detectives that give us so much pleasure and enjoyment, who is responsible for bringing into our lives Miss Marple, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford and of course Hercule Poirot regret anything? What has happened in the Isokon building? What dark secrets are about to unfold before our eyes? This detective novel is charming, intriguing and fascinating. I love the plotline and the references to the Golden Age Detectives and the way the author lets us into the lives of his protagonists. This is a crime book without much bloodshed but with an emphasis on the underlying motive and explanation and at the same time a psychological novel: I’m thrilled by this combination.
About the Author
Guy Fraser-Sampson is a lawyer with deep-set roots in the investment area. Since 2007, he has been a member of the teaching staff at Cass Business School. A few years ago he started writing fiction. He has written three books in the ‘Mapp and Lucia’ series and recently began writing ‘The Hampstead Murder’ series. Volume #1 is ‘Death in Profile‘ (March 18, 2016) and you can read my review here. Volume #3 is ‘A Whiff of Cyanide‘ (my review).
|Publisher||Urbane Publications (Jan. 12, 2017)|