Reviewed by Lindsay Burton
Death on the Pier is a delightfully theatrical murder mystery and utterly perfect for fans of Richard Osman, Anthony Horowitz and, of course, Agatha Christie!
After an unsuspecting audience witnesses the shot-and-kill of his leading lady on stage, renowned playwright Bertie Carroll takes on the role of a real-life detective. It takes some time for the cast of suspects backstage to realize the terrifying truth after the curtain fall and the applause subsides. Nevertheless, while motives and secrets come to light, the murderer is still on the loose.
I absolutely love murder mysteries. The ones that are just a little bit humorous, a little less genuine, and I can close my eyes without worrying that a killer is waiting outside my door, not the really dark thriller-type ones where it’s all too close to home and it’s going to give me nightmares. Despite it not being comedic, this book had an air of old-world splendour that gave it an Agatha Christie-like quality. There were so many clever red herrings.
Whatever else may be said, this is Agatha Christie, written for a contemporary readership yet taking place in her prime.
This charming, riveting cozy mystery set in the ’30s features some of my absolute favourite things: an appealing Brighton setting, theatre, a sleuth who gets caught up in a locked-room murder mystery, a detective (and hopefully, a future love interest) who encourages amateur sleuthing, some strange and very suspicious side characters, and a hint of slow burning romance that already has me hooked. A well-constructed, detailed and riveting murder mystery, I absolutely loved the plot. The Agatha Christie-like atmosphere of the book drew me into it: I couldn’t put it down.
Furthermore, I enjoyed the meta-theatrical aspect of the plot, the play inside a play connection it evoked (perhaps, the murder mystery within a murder mystery), and the dramatic entrances and reveal. As the author describes and describes the theatre, the reader is able to sense how much passion and knowledge the author has for it. It was a great pleasure for me to see Brighton depicted in a novel for the first time, and because I’ve visited Brighton so many times (I even saw a show there), I liked being able to visualize the setting and the atmosphere of the novel.
The thing I was missing was character development. Despite knowing that cosy mysteries are more about the plot, I still felt like there was something missing that would have completely captured my heart. Although I enjoyed Bertie’s narrator’s voice, I was missing a bit: his backstory and character definition. Similar thoughts ran through my mind when I thought about Hugh: he is an enigma: we hardly understand him, his motives, his personality, or his reasons for seeking out Bertie after all these years. It was nice reading about Bertie and Hugh as they question each suspect and discover more motives as they moved through the case. Because there were a lot of motives. In the next book, we should find out more about that since this is the first novel in a series. Furthermore, I hope their relationship gets the attention it deserves: I know this isn’t a romance, but the chemistry between them is evident, so fingers crossed they will develop into something more.
Rating: Anyway, I highly recommend this novel – rate it as 4/5. My anticipation for the next book is already building.
This book would make a fabulous stocking filler this Christmas.
RRP and Buy Link: It retails at £9.99 and can be purchased from Amazon here.