Thursday, April 22, 2021

The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths

First Sentence: The two men have been standing there for eighteen minutes.

Peggy Smith is 90-years-old so her death isn't startling, except to her caregiver Natalka Kolisnyk. It is not the number of crime novels in Peggy's room that was surprising, but that almost all of them were dedicated to Peggy. When a masked gunman breaks in and steals a book Natalka and café owner Benedict were packing up, it's determined Peggy's death wasn't so natural, and DS Harbinder Kaur is assigned to the case. Joined by Peggy's elderly neighbor, Edwin Fitzgerald, Natalka, Benedict, and Harbinder join forces to undercover Peggy's killer.

Griffiths has a huge following of loyal fans. That makes it hard to be an outlier, but there was too much about this book that just did not work.

Setting aside the alternating voices; a device some don't mind while others find irritating, the plot was improbable, the coincidences were overwhelming and unrealistic. To have a police officer put his partner's life in jeopardy resulting in extreme harm to her, and then she is blamed stretched credulity. The portents were clumsy and obvious, thus removing any opportunity for surprise or suspense.

Griffiths does do a good job introducing the characters, and one learns of their background, as each appears. They are interesting and nicely developed, even those who are not particularly likable. One appreciates the friendships and camaraderie which develops. The team of four amateurs is the only thing that works in this book. Harbinder much less so and her partner is unpleasant to the point of being a caricature of male chauvinism.

Setting part of the book at a mystery conference provides a nice look into the world of publishing. However, there were too many threads, red herrings, and twists—yes, there can be too many intentionally timed twists—portents with predictable outcomes, and an ending that came from nowhere. Each death is projected, which removes any sense of surprise.

By far, the strength of this book lies in the characters, particularly the four who become friends. Their diversity adds dimension to the story, and one appreciates there being an epilogue for each character at the end. A cozy at its heart, this is a story of how the most unlikely of people can become friends.

"The Postscript Murders" is much different from Griffith's other books. The plot is overly complicated, filled with coincidences, and becomes boring at times. It feels, and perhaps was meant to be, as though this is a send-up of detective fiction. Yet it seemed rather demeaning to the genre.

THE POSTSCRIPT MURDERS (TradMys/Cozy-D.S. Harbinder Kaur-Leeds, England-Contemp) - Okay
Griffith, Elly – 2nd in series
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Mar 2021, 336 pp.

2 comments:

  1. I'm sorry to hear this didn't work for you, although I appreciate both your candor and the quality of your review. I'm a Griffiths fan, so I know what you mean about the way she develops her characters. The context is interesting, too. But if the different strategies (like alternating voices) didn't work here, they didn't. And I agree with you that a story has to be plausible in order to draw me in. I suppose even the most talented author doesn't get it right for every reader all the time.

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    1. Thank you, Margot. I really appreciate y our comments.

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