Morgan Sheppard, host of a hugely successful mid-morning television show – basically, think Jeremy Kyle – is having a bad day. After an evening in France with a beautiful woman, he finds himself waking up in a London hotel room. The door is locked from the outside, the window doesn’t open and there are five strangers in the room, all waking up at the same time. And there’s a dead body in the bathroom…
A message arrives via the television screen, delivered by a man in a mask. Sheppard has to prove that he lives up to his reputation – an ill-deserved reputation – and solve the murder. He has three hours – if he fails, then a bomb will explode killing everyone in the room. But things aren’t that simple…
After a month in the Golden Age, it’s time to re-emerge into the twenty-first century and this debut novel from Chris McGeorge. But before we get into the review, let’s make one thing clear to my regular readers who might have seen the adverts for this one:
IT’S NOT THAT SORT OF LOCKED ROOM MYSTERY!
There’s an extremely over-the-top quote stating that McGeorge is new “King of the Locked Room Mystery”. Firstly, he’s written one book. You can’t be the king of anything based on that evidence. And in any literary definition I’ve ever seen, a locked room mystery doesn’t generally involve locking the murder and suspects inside the room with the victim.
Right, that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at what the book actually is. Pretty damn good, that’s what it is.
A finite set of suspects, an interesting lead – there are times when it looks like we are going down the unreliable narrator/point of view, but thankfully the author stays clear of that cliché – and, guess what, some actual clues to the murderer. Oh, you won’t spot them, but they are there. It’s hard to say much more without spoiling the book, but the plot is very well constructed, flashing back to various parts of Sheppard’s life without every feeling like padding, while keeping the momentum of the present day predicament at all times.
You have to take the villain’s ability to set things up with a pinch… no, a ton of salt, but the book gets away with it due to never trying to be anything more than an entertaining thriller/mystery (and what’s wrong with that?). So if you fancy an entertaining thriller/mystery, this one is well worth your time. But while it’s not that sort of locked room mystery, it’s still Highly Recommended.