Book Review: A Meditation on Murder by Robert Thorogood

I was offered a copy of this by Mumsnet to review – and never one to turn down the opportunity of a free book – I jumped at the chance.

A Meditation on Murder

I must confess at this point that I have never watched the BBC series ‘Death in Paradise’ – it has always struck me as something my 86 year old Nan would like – real ‘Sunday night telly’ in the style of Bergerac but on a slightly more exotic island than Jersey. (Got to love a 1980s TV reference!) However – I’ve seen enough trailers to know what the original main cast looked like – and their mugshots are also on the back of the book – so the characters were immediately pictured in my head.

Here’s what Amazon says about it (and it’s pretty much the first page of the book too).

“An original story from the creator and writer of the hit BBC One TV series, Death in Paradise, featuring on-screen favourite detective, DI Richard Poole.

Enhance your enjoyment of the series as, for the first time, Robert Thorogood brings the characters to life on the page in an all-new locked-room mystery.

Aslan Kennedy has an idyllic life: leader of a spiritual retreat for wealthy holidaymakers on one of the Caribbean’s most unspoilt islands, Saint Marie. Until he’s murdered, that is. The case seems open and shut: when Aslan was killed he was inside a locked room with only five other people, one of whom has already confessed to the murder.

Detective Inspector Richard Poole is hot, bothered, and fed up with talking to witnesses who’d rather discuss his ‘aura’ than their whereabouts at the time of the murder. But he also knows that the facts of the case don’t quite stack up. In fact, he’s convinced that the person who’s just confessed to the murder is the one person who couldn’t have done it. Determined to track down the real killer, DI Poole is soon on the trail, and no stone will be left unturned.”

You are immediately transported to a spiritual retreat in the Caribbean – having been to a similar place in St Lucia, I could really imagine being there (rather than in a slightly damp West Midlands which is where I was actually reading the book).  The author really evokes the feeling of the tropical island throughout the book.

The prologue sets the scene (and at the end of the book I had to go back and read it again to see if I’d missed any clues) but within a few pages the murder has been committed and Aslan is dead.  The story then follows the murder investigation.

DI Richard Poole (a UK police officer now based in the Caribbean) hates the sun, sand and sea and living in Saint Marie.  His people skills are rubbish – but I must admit to really liking him.  His geekiness, analytical mind and sand-phobia all making him rather similar to me………

I have to say that I did guess the means of the murder very early on – if not the definite culprit or the reasons why – and I found myself shouting at the book a bit because neither the DI or his colleagues had sussed it out.

There are loads of twists and turns, with red herrings and seemingly random bits (the removal of the lizard from Richard’s ‘house’?) – but I can see how it would make great TV. In fact it almost feels like it’s been written for the TV rather than as a book.  There are a few places where the plot to date is summarised – like it’s the start of a new episode.  One thing I did really like is that at a three or four junctures in the book, the contents of the white board in the police station are written down giving details of the victim, suspects etc – and that was great – and I guess something, as a reader, you are always doing in your head.

The conclusion of the book comes quite quickly – and all the loose ends are very cleverly wrapped up.

Overall I did enjoy the book.  It was very ‘nice’ and ‘harmless’ in the traditional style of an Agatha Christie or Murder She Wrote episode. It was well written, excellent at bringing about the character of the Caribbean and concluded well.  It made a nice change from some of the more psychological and graphic thrillers that seem to be the genre of the moment. A pleasant, easy summer read.

Now maybe I’ll lend it to my 86 year old Nan…………

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