THE POSTSCRIPT MURDERS by Elly Griffiths

Bestselling novelist Elly Griffiths has been writing mystery stories since 2009’s The Crossing Places, which launched series investigator Dr Ruth Galloway. Her 1950s Brighton-set series featuring Mephisto and Stephens began with The Zig Zag Girl, published in 2014.

The Stranger Diaries was the first novel featuring DS Harbinder Kaur, a rather interesting central character quite unlike the stereotypical police detective of ‘regular’ mystery novels. She lives with her parents in Shoreham, on the south coast.

The death of a ninety-year-old woman with a heart condition should absolutely not be suspicious. DS Harbinder Kaur certainly sees nothing to concern her in carer Natalka’s account of Peggy Smith’s death.

But when Natalka reveals that Peggy lied about her heart condition and that she had been sure someone was following her…
And that Peggy Smith had been a ‘murder consultant’ who plotted deaths for authors, and knew more about murder than anyone has any right to…
And when clearing out Peggy’s flat ends in Natalka being held at gunpoint by a masked figure…

There’s something incredibly enjoyable about ‘cosy crime’, whether it’s the intricate plotting of an Agatha Christie, the comforting historical charm of a Josephine Tey, or even the more-modern, but psychologically nuanced, PD James, these novels are reassuringly safe. Often they’re criticised as being one-dimensional, populated by poorly-sketched characters, whose murders are so anaemic as to trivialise such a heinous crime as homicide by making them totally devoid of reality, but over the years the cosy crime novel has endured.

The Postscript Murders is a thoroughly enjoyable romp with a blistering pace and a few surprises along the way. The characters are well-drawn and rounded, with plenty of variety to ensure it doesn’t get confusing. Whilst it’s fair to say the plot is ludicrous and implausible, it’s delivered with enough panache it seems churlish to complain too much. I particularly enjoyed the section set in Aberdeen, at a hotel during a literary crime festival, and there is an affectionate undercurrent of playfulness about the whole proceedings, despite it involving a murder. As someone who has attended similar events, I recognised certain observations that brought a smile to my lips. The genre of crime writing is an incredibly broad church (no pun intended), but if you prefer something gentle and fun as opposed to gritty and thrilling, I think you’ll probably enjoy The Postscript Murders. Nothing ground-breaking, nothing too edgy, but nevertheless a good way to spend a few hours.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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