Twelve Motives for Murder Fiona Sherlock Hodder Studio, €8.99
Who killed Jonty Caswell-Jones? That is the question posed in Twelve Motives for Murder, an innovative and engaging interactive murder mystery from Irish author Fiona Sherlock that challenges the reader to help solve the case.
The wealthy Caswell-Jones family are celebrating Christmas with their nearest and dearest in the glorious surroundings of Como in Italy. Merriment abounds among the dozen until Jonty Caswell-Jones is found dead in his study.
While the local police don’t suspect anything untoward, his widow Catherine is convinced he was murdered and calls in her old friend Elizabeth Chalice, a private investigator, for assistance.
Elizabeth begins interviewing the 12 suspects; as she progresses we soon realise there is a host of tensions brewing and that each person has a very clear motive for wanting Jonty dead.
But which of these is the deadliest? Is it his eldest son and heir Thomas? Or Ludlow Lansdowne de Groot, his scheming best friend? Maybe Argento di Silva, an eagle-eyed opportunist who solves all the problems in Jonty’s life? Or Margaret Horton, Catherine’s best friend who despises Jonty because of the constant demands he places on his wife?
The pure joy of this book is that Chalice calls on the reader directly to assist her with the case. She profiles all the suspects, engaging in regular direct asides to fill us in on what she’s really thinking about the situation.
Set in 1953, this book has all the hallmarks of a ‘locked room’ mystery in the style of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple or Poirot, but it’s probably the most original contemporary version of this genre that I’ve come across.
Laid out like a screenplay, the narrative develops at a brisk pace, keeping the reader right in the middle of the action. It’s wonderful fun. If you enjoy playing the armchair detective, put this absorbing title on your Christmas wishlist.