By Elly Griffiths
A 90-year-old woman with a pair of binoculars, a notebook and an extensive library of detective fiction is found dead by her caregiver.
A heart attack? Her doctor says yes.
Her friends think of Peggy Smith’s regular beach walks, insistence on taking the stairs instead of the elevator and her lively energy.
And then they find the business card saying “Peggy Smith. Murder Consultant” and so many murder mysteries on her bookshelves dedicated to Peggy.
Her caregiver Natalka Kolisnyk, her neighbor Edwin Fitzgerald and the owner of a nearby coffee stand Benedict Cole decide to search for more evidence to support their suspicion that Peggy’s death was not natural.
They find a plain postcard with the words, “We are coming for you” tucked into a Dex Challoner mystery book that Peggy was reading when she died. A masked, gunman with keys to Peggy’s apartment enters while they are going through her books looking for clues. The gunman picks up an old Sheila Atkins book, THANK HEAVEN FASTING, laying on the floor and leaves. Then Dex is shot while sitting on his couch the same night that Natalka, Edwin and Benedict went to hear him speak and then invited him for drinks and conversation about Peggy.
With that, this mystery novel takes off. Natalka, Edwin and Benedict early on reported their suspicions to Detective Sergeant (DS) Harbinder Kaur. But as she gets busy investigating Dex’s death, the trio decide to do some investigating of their own.
This novel has an almost manic pace. Natalka fears she’s being stalked by fellow Ukrainians because of her involvement in a cryptocurrency crime. Edwin worries about death. The lesbian Harbinder and the virginal former monk Benedict worry about love. Another novelist is murdered at a mystery book festival in Aberdeen. His mother, like Dex’s, Peggy and Edwin, lived at Seaview Court, an assisted living building for seniors.
This is a cozy literary mystery that celebrates wily old ladies and gentlemen. If you liked Anthony Horowitz’s MAGPIE MURDERS, or Richard Osman’s THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB, you’ll enjoy this one. It doesn’t have the literary inside jokes of MAGPIE MURDERS, but it certainly tips its hat to great mystery stories and authors from literature as well as the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.
The real pleasure of this book are the wonderful characters that author Elly Griffiths has created, from the debonair Edwin, retired from the BBC, who calls Seaview Court “Preview Court”; the adventurous Natalka; and Harbinder, who lives at home with her close Indian parents who don’t yet know she’s gay.
About the Author: Elly Griffiths (1963 – )
Elly Griffiths is the pen name of Domenica de Rosa. She is the author of the Ruth Galloway series featuring a forensic archaeologist who lives in a remote seaside cottage in Norfolk; the DI Edgar Stephens series, set in Brighton in the 1950s; and the Harbinder Kaur series. THE POSTSCRIPT MURDERS is the second book in the Harbinder Kaur series and follows THE STRANGER DIARIES.
She’s written four books under her real name, which are about Italy, families and identity.
She read English at King’s College London and then worked in publishing for many years.
She lives near Brighton, where she grew up. She’s married and has two children and a cat.