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Miss Christie Regrets (Hampstead Murders) Paperback – January 12, 2017
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He’s allowed to help at the Hampstead Police Station, and “help” means to wait while the detectives there deal with a recent murder of Peter Howse, who lived in a flat above an art gallery and exhibition house, which used to belong to his family. Someone has struck Howse as he was seated at his desk. Suspects abound, and the police soon discover there are almost too many suspects with too many motives.
Collison doesn’t stay idle for long. A skeleton is found in a suitcase, hidden behind a brick basement wall of the Isokon building. A block of apartments built in the 1930s (and actually a real place)., the building’s most famous tenants were the Soviet agent who recruited the “Cambridge Five” and Agatha Christie. A connection between the skeleton and the murder is made – Peter Howse had been assembling research on the Isokon building for an exhibition shortly to begin. The two cases are consolidated, and Collison takes charge.
“Miss Christie Regrets” by Guy Fraser-Sampson is the second in the Hampstead Murder series.
Fraser-Sampson is perhaps better known as an investment funds manager and business consultant. He’s a member of the teaching staff of the Cass Business School in London, an investment columnist, and the author of four books on finance and investment. In the history and fiction areas, he’s written a history of the Plantagenets, a review of cricket from 1967 to 1977 when the color barriers where breaking down, two successor novels to Mapp and Lucia novels of E.F. Benson, and now this Hampstead Murder series.
The story artfully blends the historic of a notable building and the account of the old Soviet spies, swirled together with a contemporary mystery. And Miss Christie posthumously plays a critical role in the investigation.
“Miss Christie Regrets,” like its predecessor Death in Profile, tells a fast-paced, interesting story and pays tribute to one of the great mystery writers (in the first book, it was Dorothy Sayers and her detective Lord Peter Wimsey). Kudos to Mr. Fraser-Sampson for a second mystery every bit as good as the first.
Working alongside him is DS Karen Willis, DI Bob Metcalfe, and DC Priya Desai. With four suspects, the case takes a strange twist when another body is discovered not too far away, at the old Isokon building. This body has been hidden for many years, with the police estimating that the killing took place somewhere between late the 1930’s, and early 1940’s.
A connection is soon made between the two murders. Peter was working on a project about the building. One of the suspects is a grandchild of a former resident, plus there were lots of strange goings-on at the Isokon building in the late 1930’s. It’s up to the detectives to confirm if there is a direct link, and find their killer. The process though is hampered by information being held by special branch; information that is regarded as top secret.
Can letters from a former resident during the late 1930’s, one Miss Agatha Christie, hold some key information?
I have awarded the book four and a half stars, out of five, due to the fact that I was thoroughly hooked from the start, and I had a need to know what had occurred, and why. I found it hard to put down, and kept on telling myself, ‘just one more page’.
I enjoyed getting to know the main characters, and found them easy to get a feel for, however I found the relationship triangle between Bob, Peter (a different one from the deceased), and Karen was rather far-fetched, and didn’t interest me in the slightest. In my opinion there really was no need to add a love story to a thriller/crime book. I haven’t read the first book in the series, and have been informed that the triangle started in that book.
The plot was quite slow. It was more about the police work, and how they went about catching the killer, more than a gritty crime novel. There was a lot of new information being added to the case all the time, and some twists to the story, some predictable, others not so much. It reads like a classic, old-fashioned, who-done-it, murder mystery.
I love a good police/crime book, so this is why the book caught my attention. I have to say though that the second half of the book could do with another edit, as I spotted a few little mistakes. To be honest, these didn’t take away my enjoyment of the book, though one had me baffled, I had to ask my husband to read the paragraph to make sure I wasn’t reading it wrong.
If you like a good crime book, one that doesn’t have any grizzly moments, and scenes of violence, then this will be a great book for you. Though this book can be read as a stand-alone, you would be better starting with book one – ‘A Death in Profile‘.
Reviewed on Whispering Stories Book Blog
*I received a free copy of this book, which I voluntarily reviewed
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