A Will To Kill (2021) by R V Raman

Bhaskar Fernandez, an ageing millionaire, has concerns about his well-being, so much so that he has written two wills. One comes into play if he dies of natural causes, the other if he dies of any other cause – accident and murder included. As he gathers his family to the remote Greybrooke Manor, high in the misty Nilgiris mountains, he clearly has suspicions of possible foul play, as he has also invited Harith Athreya, an experienced investigator.

The house is soon cut off by a massive landslide and when murder strikes, the tensions begin to rise. The family is isolated with a murderer, a murderer who may well be willing to strike again.

There are a number of things that get in the way of reading and reviewing. In the past, for me, it’s either been work – exam season is the worst at school – or, to my mild embarrassment, getting sucked into the latest Assassins’ Creed game, but now I’ve got a new winner in the things that cause problems with reading and reviewing – COVID.

Don’t panic, it’s all but over now and I’ve only had minor – if uncomfortable and protracted – symptoms, but the one thing that it’s made particularly difficult is concentrating on things for more than ten minutes at a time, which does make reading a mystery rather tricky, but let’s give it a go.

This is the debut mystery novel for R V Raman, who has previously written four thrillers. It’s a very traditional setting, with an amateur (ex-professional) sleuth, a close circle of suspects and every member of the cast having something to hide.

What it’s not, I really should say, is a locked room mystery. The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The Guardian amongst others all claim it is in their quotes, but it isn’t in no way, shape or form. It’s not even a closed circle really, as the landslide does seem quite bypass-able at times. I’ve no idea what has led to the rampant misuse of this term, but this is one of the worst cases of misidentification by reviewers who ought to know better that I’ve seen for a long time.

That’s not a criticism of the book at all – it doesn’t claim to be a locked room mystery. What it is, is a well-constructed mystery with interesting characters and plot-twists, the beginning of a series that has a lot of potential. It’s just not a locked-room mystery. There are enough questions raised in the plot to keep the reader guessing. and there’s some cleverness about the solution that will probably catch readers out, and I was impressed that once something happens, the author avoided one of the oldest mystery clichés out there.

A Will To Kill is out now in paperback and ebook from Pushkin Press. This post is part of the blog tour – see the image below for my fellow bloggers’ thoughts. Here’s a bonus link to the thoughts of Kate over at Cross Examining Crime too.

3 comments

  1. Oh no, sorry to hear you caught Covid as well – but thank goodness it was relatively mild (although I found that even mild was quite dreadful, plus it seems to have made me susceptible to every other bug that has been lurking around). Hope you feel completely recovered soon.

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    • What worries me a bit is that I only tested positive two days after the symptoms of a bad cold. Didn’t go anywhere to spread it, but my wife, a few days later, was the same. Anyway, I’m out the other side of it now – back into the wide world on Friday…

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