Review Blog

Jun 13 2013

The beauty of murder by A. K. Benedict

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Orion, 2013. ISBN 9781409144526
(Age: 14+) Recommended. Crime. University. When Dr. Stephen Killigan takes up his appointment at Sepulchre College, Cambridge, his life changes in some unexpected ways. Heavily tattooed Stephen doesn't fit most people's image of a Cambridge don, which may affect the way he's perceived.
After consuming a number of drinks with a friend and colleague Stephen goes out for kebabs and discovers a masked body in a church yard. He has to move off to get a signal for his mobile phone and when he returns with the police the body is gone, as is any evidence of any foul play. The police, in the form of Inspector Jane Horne, are not well pleased.
The body of a young boy is found within the university with a similar mask to one Killigan described on the church yard body. This all leads to him being a suspect and his reputation in Sepulchre College and in Cambridge becoming very dodgy. He ends up plunging into the Cam letting the water take him, when he is rescued by someone from a different time.
It is no mean feat to construct a time travel tale that is believable, but Benedict does it superbly. Her historical knowledge and interaction of her cast of characters allows the reader to be carried away to wherever she wishes. It is through the travelling that Stephen meets Jackamore Grass, discovers his relationships with the present and the past and his addiction to murder. With the help of Lana Carver, who works in the library and the wonderful Professor Iris Burton, the eccentric elderly academic whose beliefs have led to her gaining a rather dubious reputation, he is able to sort out fact from fiction and convince Horne that he is not a lunatic.
Benedict has created a wonderful concoction, part fantasy, part historical novel, part thriller and finally a murder mystery. Along the way she has finely drawn and observed an intriguing group of people, all interesting in their own right. A thoroughly enjoyable read. Highly recommended for an adult audience and mature secondary students.
Mark Knight

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