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Sir Laurence Dies Paperback – August 20, 2013
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Reviewed By Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Sir Laurence Dies is a detective mystery, written by Christopher D. Abbott, featuring Dutch psychologist, Dr. Pieter Straay, who has a keen interest in crime. He's on his way to England from Amsterdam when he's approached by Sir Laurence Gregson, a retired Lieutenant Colonel. Sir Laurence is a severely disfigured survivor of World War I. He invites Straay to come stay at his estate after confiding that he fears someone is trying to kill him. Sir Laurence recounts a near hunting accident and a later boating accident that, combined with some ominous whispering he overheard, have made him feel sure that his life is in danger. Straay accepts his offer and arranges to come for dinner at the estate. The trains are late, however, and Straay misses the dinner, but is able to observe the inhabitants of the house that evening.
Christopher D. Abbott's detective story is a first-rate murder mystery with an engaging Dutch psychologist-sleuth. The reader gets to follow as Dr. Straay and his friend Chief Inspector Drake interview Sir Laurence's family, friends, and staff after his apparent suicide on the night of Straay's arrival. This is a stylish and enjoyable mystery that keeps the reader guessing as Straay and Drake consider clues, motives, and inconsistencies. Fans of Christie and Holmes alike should enjoy Sir Laurence Dies as well as anyone who likes police procedurals. I was caught up in the plot from the very first pages and found it to be quite entertaining and not at all predictable.
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(Do not read below this point if you hate spoilers.)
Right from the beginning when Straay is observing people on the boat crossing to England, I took a dislike to Straay. Then when he meets Sir Laurence Gregson on the boat (and he is definitely sought out by Sir Laurence), I was immediately suspicious of Sir Laurence. I remembered the prologue and thought, convenient scars, it is not Larry Gregson (who, we know, preferred to be called Larry and whose personality was very different, scars or no scars). I suspected it was Anthony from the prologue, who would have served with Larry during the war.
At this point and all further points that I read, I lost interest. The early clues were blatant. The new "Sir Laurence" gives many plot points away, way too early in the novel. There are other authors who do fake suicides and locked room mysteries much better than this novel does. Real golden age authors, not someone pretending to be one. Those authors wrote better than this author writes and did characters and plots better. It will cost you more to read their novels but it is worth the extra expense.
I would not classify this as an historical mystery novel. It is just pretending to be one.
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.
The blurb for the book is a good place to go for the general description. I'm afraid to say too much for fear I'll spoil it for first time readers. I'm glad that I had no real knowledge of what was to come because the joy of enlightenment,or the sneakiness of the author, was much too fun to miss! Read the book for a rocking good mystery that will take you back to the days of Hercule Poirot.