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BOOK REVIEW:

How to solve your own murder : a novel

Annie’s Great Aunt Frances has always been a presence in Annie’s life. A rather nebulous, undefined presence, but a presence none the less. Great Aunt Frances owns the house in Chelsea where Annie has grown up with her mother. Communication from Great Aunt Frances has always been sporadic at best and communication about her from her mother or grandparents has been equally limited. What Annie knows is this: Great Aunt Frances had her fortune told at a carnival when she was 16 years old. That fortune predicted that she was going to be murdered. That fortune so shook teenage Frances that she spent the rest of her life attempting to keep that fortune from coming true. So, it is a shock for Annie when she receives a letter from Great Aunt Frances’ attorney informing her that she has now replaced her mother as Frances’ heir, and that her presence is required at Gravesdown Hall on Frances’ estate in just a few days.

Annie makes her way to Castle Knoll, the small village adjacent to Gravesdown Hall, and meets with her great aunt’s attorney. They make their way to the estate and are joined by the others whose presence was requested: Frances’ stepson, Saxon, who was asked to appear, has been detained, his wife, and another attorney who is representing the interests of a development company who is very interested in Frances’ estate. When they enter the library for the meeting with Francie, they find her quite dead near her desk.

The next day, when Frances’ will is read, her attorney explains that Frances was still convinced that she was going to be murdered and, as a result, recently updated her will to name Annie and Saxon as her only heirs. Whichever of them can solve the mystery of who killed Frances within a week, will inherit the entire estate. The other person will inherit nothing. If neither of them is able to solve the murder, Frances’ estate will be sold to the land developer and the proceeds from the sale will go to the Crown. 

Alone, in a strange village, surrounded by strangers, some with a clear motive for refusing to help her, Annie must solve a recent murder with possible origins decades before she was born. . .

Debut author Kristen Perrin tells a tale with one foot firmly planted in the past and the other in the present. She alternates chapters, allowing Frances to tell her story from over half a century earlier through a journal kept while the events were unfolding. The rest of the story is told from the perspective of Annie, Frances’ Great Niece, who has been thrust into the mystery and feels a responsibility to both her Great Aunt, Mother, and the residence of Castle Knoll to find the solution.

How to Solve Your Own Murder is a page-turner, with plenty of atmosphere, macguffins, red herrings, secrets, and revelations to propel along the plot. And she seems to leave just enough wiggle room at the end to intimate that readers may get the chance to join Annie, and possibly Great Aunt Frances, on another case, which would be a delight.

How to Solve Your Own Murder is a charming debut that will leave readers wondering when Kristen Perrin’s next book will be available. 

 
 

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