Saturday, December 22, 2012

Nine Man's Murder: Review

First of all--my thanks go out to the Puzzle Doctor over at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel for bringing Nine Man's Murder by Eric Keith to my attention.  If you love a good mystery and don't know the good Doctor & haven't visited his blog, then you really should pop over and check things out (but finish my review first, okay?  thanks).  He regularly points out books that I just have to read--not just put down on the TBR list for later, but figure out the quickest way possible to get the book in my hands.  Nine Man's Murder is just such a book.

Not just anyone could take the classic Christie theme (a la And Then There Were None/Ten Little Indians) and create a satisfying read.  And it takes a lot of courage to try.  Eric Keith has done a very good job.  He takes the nine graduates of Damien Anderson's Detective Training Agency to Anderson's mountain-top retreat for an unexpected class reunion.  But when they arrive Damien is nowhere to be found. Before they can really try to figure out what's going on, the bridge (and their only escape route) is destroyed and their missing host is found stabbed to death in a closet.

A sinister note informs them that they are all scheduled to die unless they can unmask the killer and prove themselves deserving of the status of detective.  An unlikely event in the opinion of the note writer....and, as the graduates are murdered one by one, it begins to look like those doubts are well-founded.  Nearly all of the guests have ties to a local mobster--is that the link that will lead to the solution?  Or does the answer lie in the past and the graduating class's final assignment--investigating the series of mysterious accidents on the film set of Nine Man Morris 15 years ago?  With time running out, somebody needs to find out the answer quick.

This is a fun, fast-paced read with enough false clues and twists and turns to keep the reader guessing.  As the number of survivors dwindles, it becomes harder and harder to think up a convincing solution.  I actually did come up with the correct villain, but then I couldn't figure out how it was possible and abandoned the idea.  As with Christie, the clues are all there.  Keith just does a good job with his sleight-of-hand and distracts the reader to keep us from noticing when a real-live, honest-to-goodness pointer is staring us in the face.  And, he takes some of the Queen of Crime's tricks and puts his own twist on them.  Well done.  Four and a half stars.


Puzzle Doctor said...

So glad you enjoyed this one, Bev. One of the most fun books that I've read for a while. And gangs for the recommendation.

Bev Hankins said...

It was a lot of fun...and a nice, quick read. Which--after some of the books on my have-to in order to complete a challenge list--was most welcome indeed!

TracyK said...

I had been waiting for your review of this book. Since both you and The Puzzle Doctor liked it, I am adding it to my wishlist. (My husband is too.) Can't decide on e-book or paper copy.

Bev Hankins said...

I hope you and your husband enjoy it, TracyK!

Eric Keith said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. A writer starts out thinking, "People will enjoy this," then he/she wonders, "Will people really enjoy this?" That makes this type of feedback very important and meaningful to a writer. Thank you.

Bev Hankins said...

Eric: People really do enjoy this! :-)

My pleasure.