By Stephen Booth
As a fan of Booth’s Cooper and Fry series, I was looking forward to reading this standalone mystery . However, disappointment lay between the pages of this much-too-long tome. I can only wonder how lengthy this book was before the editor whittled it down because there was so much more that could have been deleted without losing the tone of the story, which was poor, at best.
Chris Buckley, a not too likeable character, has recently lost his parents, is facing redundancy and has entered into a business partnership in a rather dubious endeavor. He is approached by an elderly man, Samuel Longden, who states that
he is a distant relative of Chris’ and is writing a book about their family history and could use Chris’ help. Chris is not at all interested in any collaboration with Longden and decides to forego a pre-arranged meeting with him only to later learn that Longden has been killed in a hit and run accident.
Longden has left Chris a legacy in his will but only if Chris completes the book. With his finances being severely strained, Chris decides to take on this task. With the introduction of Chris’ extensive family, I found it very confusing as to where to place each person on the family tree and how they were related to one another. In some cases a character would appear briefly, interacting with Chris, and then drop out of the story for another hundred pages, leaving the reader to wonder what their importance was and how they fit into the mystery.
Reading the last page of this book was more of a “thank goodness that’s over” than “what a good story”. I expected more of this author.