Oh dear. Reading this book was like spending a very long day at the office. I was disappointed after seeing so many rave reviews and it being the Sunday Times Crime Book of the Year. I’m sorry to report that I considered abandoning it several times, but I continued with it in the hope that something would happen to change my opinion.
The premise of the book is that you, the reader, are sifting through a ton of evidence – mostly in email format – along with two junior lawyers (or law students? I’m not sure) whose boss has given them the evidence to review, but he withholds a lot of information so that they can have fun working everything out, apparently. Anyway, the case does include a murder but unlike a conventional murder mystery, it doesn’t happen until two thirds of the way through. The tagline on the book’s cover – ‘One murder. Fifteen suspects’ – suggests the murder is the main focus of the story, when it isn’t. There’s a lot about fundraising and fraud, a community drama group and overseas medical aid. There’s way too much going on, too many characters (such as they are – many have minor roles and you don’t get to know them), too much repetition. I’m sure it’s very cleverly plotted, but I’m struggling to think of anything I liked about it.
I didn’t find the book very credible, from the sheer number of emails everybody sends (they always have a good internet signal wherever they are, how lucky), to the use of italics (no one in real life bothers to use italics in emails… do they?), to myriad details about the characters’ actions. Why is so much written down, handy for the lawyers and police to go over later, rather than spoken on the phone or in person? And a character’s username was spelt wrong on a social media post, which wasn’t noted at all by the law students and I have no idea if it’s a genuine error or if we’re supposed to notice and be suspicious.
In summary, this book had no ‘appeal’ for me. Case closed.
First published in 2021.