19th May 2021.
In this fifth outing for Vera Stanhope, the murder’s a little too close to home for comfort. Her neighbour, Joanna, is at a writers’ conference. An esteemed critic lies dead, fatally stabbed, and she’s found with a knife in her hand.
It’s a lovely idea for a crime writer to have a murder at a writers’ conference about crime fiction. The opportunity to poke fun at writers and writing is irresistible. The murder and investigation is pure Vera. She’s always excited by murder, happy to speculate, and she prefers talking to suspects and scrutinising them to forensics.
This is a locked room murder with plenty of suspects among the conference attendees. Many have motives to kill the critic, who was not well-liked by many of the people there. But it takes a second murder to give Vera the traction she needs to home in on the killer. After all the struggles to work out what happened, she seems to work out the identity of the killer and motive in double quick time, making the climax feel a little abrupt.
Apart from this minor quibble, this was another brilliantly observed and written murder mystery with Vera on top form and the tensions within her close team adding to the enjoyment.
I’m already looking forward to the sixth in the series.
Sometimes crime strikes too close to home . . .
DI Vera Stanhope is not one to make friends easily, but her neighbours keep her well-supplied in homebrew and conversation. But when one of them goes missing, her path leads her to more than a missing friend . . .
Vera tracks the young woman down to the Writer’s House, a country retreat for aspiring authors. Things get complicated when a body is discovered and Vera’s neighbour is found with a knife in her hand. Calling in the team, Vera knows that she should hand the case over. She’s too close to the main suspect. But the investigation is too tempting and she’s never been one to follow the rules. Vera must find a killer who has taken murder off the page and is making it real . .