When the publishers Harlequin asked me if I’d like a copy of A Meditation On Murder I nearly bit their hands off, I have watched the television series, Death In Paradise, from the beginning seduced by the echoes of Agatha Christie’s construction of a mystery coupled with the beautiful setting on the Caribbean island of Saint Marie. In fact my partner and I have an ongoing competition not only to guess the murderer in each episode, but to construct the reasons why, with very valuable points at stake. I was therefore thrilled to have the chance to read this book an episode based on the series, but not seen on TV (so I’m unable to use this for points) and written by Robert Thorogood, the creator of the BBC One TV series.
A Meditation on Murder is in the format of a classic ‘locked room’ mystery with the victim meeting his end in a room constructed of paper in the grounds of a hotel which contained five guests and the Spiritual Leader, Aslan Kennedy, the husband of the owner of exclusive retreat. Having been relaxing with headphones and eye-masks the murder was only discovered when the apparent murderer starts screaming. This fiendishly difficult puzzle is made more complex as the chapters progress where ever more apparent motives are raised, only to be dashed by even fewer opportunities for execution. The book recaps the evidence in the form of Richard Poole’s evidence board so the reader can make sure they haven’t missed any points along the way.
I thought I had the murderer sussed at one point, quite proud of myself I read on with the clues working in favour of my hypothesis I was certain that for once I had it all worked out, that was until the same scenario was presented to Richard Poole and I read the words:
Richard let this unlikely scenario hang in the air a moment.
“So thank you, Fidel, for your theory,– just for the record… And nor could X be our killer, either”
So once again I completely failed to spot the murderer despite the liberal scattering of clues that had presented themselves to Richard Poole’s eagle eyes, masked as they were with the obligatory red herrings along the way.
I’ll be honest it is difficult to be objective about the characterisation in this book because I’m unsure how much of my prior knowledge I used while reading, but suffice to say Richard Poole a detective dispatched from Croyden to police the island was instantly recognisable, as was the rest of the team. Richard Poole is a man who is pedantic, hates the sand, the heat and the lizard that shares his shack but for these very reasons, he is the man to lead an investigation with his rigour around the minutest detail.
This was a really enjoyable read especially, but not exclusively, for fans of Death In Paradise which is back on our screens on Thursday 8 January 2015. A Meditation on Murder is published today, 1 January 2015.