Tuesday, December 20, 2022

A Meditation on Murder (2015) by Robert Thorogood

For over a decade now, the British TV show Death in Paradise has provided mystery fans with plenty
of entertainment. The show started by taking DI Richard Poole, a stuffy inspector who insists on wearing suits in the Caribbean, and placing him on the island of Saint Marie. The show has gone through quite a few cast changes, even replacing Poole, but the general formula of a British inspector in the Caribbean has remained intact, even though they’ve usually been more receptive to its charms than Poole was. (Although the most recent protagonist as of this writing is back to the Poole-style fish out of water.) I’ve only seen a handful of episodes by series creator Robert Thorogood, but I really enjoyed them. So I decided to give one of the tie-in novels by Thorogood, A Meditation on Murder, a shot.

Aslan Kennedy is one of the owners of The Resort, a hotel-cum-health spa. Aslan wakes up one day for the “Sunrise Healing,” a procedure where guests will meditate in the “Meditation Space,” a Japanese tea house-style building on the grounds. Aslan goes and greets his guests. They enter the Meditation Space, which is made entirely of paper on wooden columns, barring a Yale lock on the door to prevent disturbances. They gather, drink tea, put on eye masks and headphones…and ten-to-fifteen minutes later, the screaming starts

Julia Higgins is found standing over Aslan’s body holding the knife. She confesses to killing him, but Poole isn’t convinced. She says she has no issue with the victim, no idea how the knife got into the Meditation Space, and has no memory of the crime.

Not to mention the annoying (to Poole) issue of the drawing pin found on the floor of the Meditation Space…

The book plays out like a long episode from the show. You have a handful of suspects, the whiteboard to summarize information, etc. I found the whole book to flow very well. I have read some complaints about the writing, mostly concerning too much recapping or it being stodgy. I’m sympathetic to some of these claims, more than once I felt that Thorogood could have made his point more concisely by cutting the last sentence, but I didn’t feel that it was too recap heavy. It flowed quite well for me.

The mystery itself is quite clever, with suspicion freely passed around between suspects with well-developed motives. I felt that Thorogood did a good job with misdirection, although I felt that some aspects were a bit obvious. Still, come the summation, I wasn’t 100% sure that Thorogood was going that direction, so I’d say he played the game well. I only have two real issues with the plot. One is that (ROT13 gur cyna uvatrf ba gur ivpgvz abg pnevat gung svir gbgnyyl qvssrerag crbcyr unir wbvarq uvf zrqvgngvba frffvba. Gur obbx qbrf whfgvsl guvf jvgu uvf trareny nggvghqr naq uvf oryvrs gung “Creuncf guvf jnf ab zber guna xnezn ernyvtavat vgfrys?” ohg V qvqa’g ohl vg jura V ernq vg. Guvf vf zber ba zr guna gur obbx gubhtu.)

My other issue is that the non-Poole main characters don’t get a lot of attention. If you aren’t familiar with the show, then you just have to look at their pictures on the back of the book to tell who’s who. While I understand Poole getting most of the character development--and it is good character development-- the other cast members could have used some more time in the spotlight.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. It really does read like an episode of the show, I’ll definitely be looking at more of Thorogood’s fiction in the future. Recommended.

No comments:

Post a Comment