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Thursday, 1 October 2020

‘The Postscript Murders’ by Elly Griffiths

Published by Quercus,
1st October 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-78747-763-6 (HB)

Two years ago there was a new Elly Griffiths novel which to all intents and purposes appeared to be a standalone – but I thought at the time that the sparky Sikh detective sergeant was too interesting a character to waste, and it seems Elly herself agreed.

The Postscript Murders takes place mainly in Shoreham on the south coast, and features that sparky DS, Harbinder Kaur, a perceptive and independent young woman with a nose for a mystery and enough determination not to let go until she’s tracked it down. And there’s a mystery about the death of Peggy Smith, even though she was ninety-plus and died as she lived, observing the world from her own armchair in her seaside retirement flat.

Peggy had business cards describing her as a murder consultant. It turns out she advised writers about ways to kill their characters off. And as if that wasn’t enough, her main ‘client’, crime writer Dex Challoner, also comes to a sticky end a few days later. Peggy’s friends, former monk turned barista Benedict, retired TV producer Edwin and carer (though not all the time) Natalka, are soon on the case, and Harbinder Kaur has a hard time keeping them in check – especially when they find a postcard printed with the words We are coming for you in Peggy’s flat.

The Ruth Galloway series and the Edgar and Mephisto books have already established Elly Griffiths in the top echelons of crime writing. Not only does she create living, breathing characters you can’t help but warm to (Harbinder’s boisterous Sikh family, for instance) and locations you feel you could visit and know your way around; she does it in a light and witty style that simply makes you want to keep turning the pages to smile at the next wry observation. With all this to enjoy, the plots could almost become incidental – but no, she triumphs there as well. In The Postscript Murders the body count keeps rising, and there are less sympathetic characters who might or might not be the real bad guys, not to mention a mysterious person in a balaclava. The path to the unexpected denouement is far from straight and takes us on a car journey the length of the UK up to Aberdeen, as well as around various metaphorical houses before ending up right back where it started, in Shoreham.

Clare Cassidy, the teacher at the centre of Harbinder Kaur’s previous outing, makes a fleeting appearance, and Benedict, Edwin and Natalka are certainly worth meeting again. Let’s hope that The Postscript Murders is only the second instalment in a third Elly Griffiths series. And if it isn’t – well, it’s a jolly good read anyway.

Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Elly Griffiths is the author of a series of crime novels set in England’s Norfolk county and featuring forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway. The first in the series, Crossing Places, earned a good deal of praise both in Griffiths’ native country, England, and in the U.S. The Literary Review termed it “a cleverly plotted and extremely interesting first novel, highly recommended.  Since then Elly has written ten further novels featuring forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway.  The most recent is The Postscript Murders. Recently she has written a second series set in the 1950’s featuring magician Max Mephisto and DI Stevens. There are five books in the new series. Click on the title to read a review of Elly’s latest Max Mephisto Book. Now You See Them.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

1 comment:

  1. I didn’t realise this was a spin-off, adding to my wishlist thanks for sharing your thoughts