Title: Murder by the Book
Author: Eric Brown
Publisher: Creme de la Crime
Publication Date: July 1, 2013
How I got it: Net Galley
I don't usually read mysteries or crime fiction but the cover of this book drew me in. And I'm glad it did! Set in the 1950's London literary scene, I was instantly engrossed and transported. Literary agent Charles Elder calls on one of his writers to assist him in "a delicate matter." "Scribbler" Donald Langham pens the Sam Brooke series but previously worked for a detective agency, which is why Elder has chosen to confide in him. Elder is being blackmailed. Having received photos of him and his lover, Kenneth, in a bathhouse, Elder can't go to the police due to homosexuality being a punishable offense. Blackmail turns into the discovery of a series of murders and a killer on the loose. Elder's secretary Maria Dupre assists Langham with chasing down the blackmailer and the two of them make quite the team. Maria is smart, independent and definitely not a pushover. She provides some balance to the male-dominated novel and becomes charmed by Donald Langham.
My only complaint might be that there were a lot of characters. I'm not sure if this is common in the genre so as to provide multiple suspects, but I did lose track of a few of the minor players. The novel is pure English through and through with terms like "boot" and "bonnet," and lots of Earl Grey and pints. I enjoyed a lot of the phrases and the fact that Brown isn't afraid to use thesaurus worthy words.
I read this book at the end of June in sweltering hot Georgia and loved it, but I recommend reading it on a crisp fall evening snuggled up by a fire.