The Postscript Murders is my second read by Elly Griffiths and also the second book to feature DS Harbinder Kaur of West Sussex police as our lead character. I say lead, she shares that honour with three other decidedly likeable characters – Benedict, Edwin and Natalya. Together, they attempt to solve a very bookish murder…
Opening sentence: The two men have been standing there for eighteen minutes.
Pay attention and get involved
There is a lot going on – plot wise – in The Postscript Murders. But it never felt too complex or confused.
In the primary story thread, Peggy is found dead in her retirement flat by her home-help, Natalka and the situation initially looks tragic but on the right-side of the law. Peggy loved reading murder mysteries and detective fiction and she has a very interesting back-story, revealed when Natalka finds a card that refers to Peggy as a murder consultant…
‘Classic crime,’ says Benedict. ‘Peggy loved these writers. I do too. Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie. Sheila Atkins.’
Other clues make Natalka think that Peggy’s death was suspicious and, along with ex-monk Benedict, who now owns the Coffee Shack on the beach near Peggy’s flat and where Natalka is a frequent visitor and Edwin, Peggy’s good friend and neighbour, they join forces with DS Harbinder Kaur to solve the case. I say join forces; the police to not require the help of amateurs, but our amateur sleuths are determined.
Alongside the Peggy murder mystery, elements of Natalka’s past come into play. She has fled from war-torn Ukraine and has a few secrets of her own. Throw in the murder of local author Dex Challoner, a trip to Scotland and some bookish revelations and you have a truly engrossing story on your hands.
Love a hometown reference
I am from Brighton and this book is primarily set in Shoreham-by-Sea, a neighbouring town, so I was instantly sucked in from that POV (‘Hove actually,’ says Edwin, which is a very Brighton joke.’)
I also really enjoyed the representation here as there are two lead characters who are gay: Harbinder Kaur and Edwin. They talk about their experiences as a young woman and older man, so you get two different perspectives.
The Postscript Murders is a multi-layered murder mystery that celebrates and has more than a few knowing nods to the Golden Age of detective fiction. If you want a modern reference too, there are shades of the much-loved Thursday Murder Club with the camaraderie and amateur sleuth vibes of our lead characters.
If you want a gauge of how good it is – I picked this book up from the library and just opened it to get a feel for it – suddenly I was 90 pages in. Highly readable and cleverly crafted with a dry, funny tone, thanks to DS Kaur’s sarcastic nature. Looking forward to her next instalment!
I highly recommend checking out the first DS Harbinder Kaur mystery, The Stranger Diaries, which is excellent. Also, I was lucky enough to have the chance to do an author Q&A with Elly Griffiths – take a look here.
- Get your copy of The Postscript Murders here;
- Published by Quercus 2020;
- 342 pages;
- My rating: