It’s always nice to start with the reason I picked the book in question to review. Unfortunately, I haven’t the faintest idea how it got on my Kindle… Apparently I paid for it, and it wasn’t a bargain (reasonable price though…) Must have been recommended to me by Amazon, but I usually don’t fall for that one.
Anyway, there it was, sitting on my Kindle, taunting me with its mysterious presence, so I figured, why not? Let’s give it a go.
Never attend a reunion in a mountain-top snowy cabin, especially with only the one bridge providing access. As the nine graduates of Damian Anderson’s detective academy arrive at the summons of their old teacher – all receiving oddly worded typed invitations, and yet no-one smelling a rat – they quickly discover Damian’s corpse and, wouldn’t you know it, the bridge is blown. A meticulous search reveals that only nine people are there… well, then eight and a corpse, then seven and two corpses… you get the idea, don’t you?
It takes a brave writer to attempt to emulate Ten Little You-Know-Whats… not that I’ve read that yet, as someone spoiled it for me… so, does Eric Keith pull it off? Is there any way of surprising the reader without pulling the same trick as Dame Agatha?
I really expected not to get on with this one, but by about a third of the way through, I was hooked. Really hooked – as in, “not putting it down until I finished it” hooked. And all the way through, as the number of characters is whittled further and further down, I was convinced that the writer couldn’t possibly pull a logical solution out of the bag.
That’s what this book resembles, to an extent – a logic problem. Not surprisingly, as the author used to design the things, but it is also significantly more than that. Eric Keith has woven a backstory to the characters that resembles a spider’s web, revealing slowly the different ways in which pairs of them are linked – a large amount of which is 100% crimson herring, but important in fleshing out this hit-list of a cast. At times, I had a little trouble remembering exactly who had done what to who, but it gelled quite quickly for me. It’s worth mentioning the artful glimpses we see into the characters’ thoughts. Informative but also not enough to establish guilt or innocence.
Another clever move is in the red herrings in the present day – there are some old chestnuts that seem to be being utilised by the murderer, but tricks that the only old pro armchair detective might spot. I will give my readers a minor hint – the writer is playing a very clever game here, don’t give up by thinking that he’s going for the obvious tricks.
The choice of order of death is pretty smart too – it often nicely disrupted my suspicions by removing my suspect. Anyway, I was looking in completely the wrong direction by the end of the book.
And the resolution is clever – not just clever, but heavily clued but not in an obvious way. And it’s not the same trick as Agatha used. Oh, almost forgot, a couple of simple but clever locked room murders as well – which again, I completely failed to solve…
Much to my surprise, given the way that it snuck on to my Kindle, very highly recommended.