Sir Laurence was a decorated soldier in the Great War, and a hardnosed businessman. He was also a man of whom everyone was a little afraid. So when he boasted to Doctor Straay about his expert knowledge of crime fiction and requested that Straay spend a weekend at his country estate, the detective had reservations.
What began as an absorbing evening of drinks, conversation, and card games, soon turned into a horrific scene of murder. Fiction would soon give way to fact and in this game, the game of murder, Doctor Straay was the expert…
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This is a beautifully written cozy historical police procedural. I read the Kindle version, and it was clear to me that the occasional typographical error had to do exclusively with the publishing medium. Mr. Abbot’s writing is elegant, and his diction is precise. He has set his mystery principally between the World Wars, and he demonstrates an intimate knowledge of the first half of the 20th Century.
This book is a cross between cozy and police procedural, and it hits that perfect spot so that you feel a little as if you’re with Dame Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, Dame Ngaio Marsh or Dorothy Sayers. The characters are full. The detectives are engaging. The plot is full of twists and turns, and the rules for detective stories laid out by Ms. Sayers and protected by Dame Agatha are adhered to faithfully.I enjoyed the book so much that I kept turning its pages instead of running the errands I had planned to do, and I’m giving thanks for it by writing this review while I should be catching up on them. Dr. Pieter Straay is an engaging detective, and his cooperation with “the force” is well crafted.
Well done, Mr. Abbot! I’m eager to read your next book.
5.0 out of 5 stars An Elegant English Mystery, November 8, 2013
Early on in his murder mystery, Sir Laurence Dies, Christopher D. Abbott’s provides a conversation between his protagonist, Dutch Criminal Psychologist, Doctor Pieter Straay, and the title character, Sir Laurence Gregson. Doctor Straay, discussing his background, says, “I am content to perform my own investigations when the mood takes me, but not as a consulting detective like your Sherlock Holmes of fiction.” After sharing a match for their cigarettes (everyone smokes constantly in this book), Sir Laurence answers, “…Holmes was a great detective and an interesting man written by a very clever author, but I prefer the complexity of a Christie novel.” The conversation provides a window into the type of novel Abbott is about to unfold. This is doesn’t rely on forensics so much as the background, psychology, and motivations of each of the characters. The reader must pay close attention to each scene and conversation for clues as to what Abbott is communicating. His protagonist even highlights for us when something of importance has just occurred IF we are astute enough to deduce it. For the dedicated mystery fan, the plot should provide sufficient opportunity for private sleuthing.
I was fortunate to meet Christopher Abbott in person at a town fair and exchange some ideas on writing. I delighted in his English accent, which he interjects throughout his very entertaining book. Once he lays out the story background, the manner in which he brings each of the characters center stage for examination was appealing to me. When I finished the book, I had to revisit the beginning again to discover the trail of crumbs Abbott skillfully laid out at the onset. A well-written novel should take us out of ourselves for a time and a great mystery should challenge our intellect and satisfy our desire for a logical conclusion to an obscure dilemma. Christopher D. Abbott’s novel succeeds on all counts.