Murder Most Malicious, Kitty Jackson
Set in the early twentieth century in mannered and beautiful Dunedin, New Zealand there are plenty of similarities between the stories of Mr Mancini and the delightfully idiosyncratic Hercule Poirot. A cerebral solver of crime, his collaboration with the acerbic Detective Haynes is a nice pairing, and then there is his sounding board, and escaper of tyrannical sisters, neighbour and dog lover.
An interesting piece of historical crime fiction, MURDER MOST MALICIOUS is entertaining reading. Great characters, a lovely sense of the time and place, and a good plot into the bargain, I certainly hope this is intended as the opening of an ongoing series. There is a particularly large cast here though, so you will need to pay attention, particularly as the body of the woman found in the Winter Garden Glasshouse is identified and connected to a group of would be writers that Mr Mancini belongs to, so his investigation starts to work it's way through friends, acquaintances, fellow would-be writers and locals.
There's good pace, a great sense of place and a nice balance between the personal back story of Mancini and his colleagues, as well as the victim and her contacts in the local community. Mancini's connection with the police is well handled and all in all there is a lot to really like about MURDER MOST MALICIOUS.
When the good-natured Mr Mancini discovers a dead woman in the Winter Garden Glasshouse on a winter’s morning in 1909, he is horrified. Even more so when the brittle-tongued Detective Haynes implies he is a suspect. That same day, when the guest speaker at the book group doesn’t appear, Mancini suspects she is the corpse. But with no identification, and with the speaker having come from a different city, right from the beginning it becomes a difficult case and one full of intrigue.
Gradually the investigation leads both the detective, who has only just arrived in Dunedin and Mancini (useful because of his knowledge of the city) to believe a member of the book group is the killer. But who? And for what reason? Gathering evidence is one thing, but being able to prove their suspicions becomes like a never ending and impossible puzzle.
Step back in time, and join Mr Mancini and Detective Hayes to see how they finally put all the pieces together and solve this Edwardian crime.