#65 The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths

PS: thanks for the murders.

The death of a ninety-year-old woman with a heart condition should absolutely not be suspicious. DS Harbinder Kaur certainly sees nothing to concern her in carer Natalka’s account of Peggy Smith’s death.

But when Natalka reveals that Peggy lied about her heart condition and that she had been sure someone was following her…

And that Peggy Smith had been a ‘murder consultant’ who plotted deaths for authors, and knew more about murder than anyone has any right to…

And when clearing out Peggy’s flat ends in Natalka being held at gunpoint by a masked figure…

Well then DS Harbinder Kaur thinks that maybe there is no such thing as an unsuspicious death after all.

I feel like Elly Griffiths has succeeded in giving the reader what they want recently, as she has not only come out with two children’s books but also The Stranger Diaries and now this new book, The Postscript Murders. I was surprised after my initial read of the first couple of chapters, how different this book sounded. It isn’t at all read in the usual voice I associate with Griffith’s work, and the surprise was pleasant because it reminded me that authors are constantly changing and adapting and willing to give their readers new discoveries.

It is slightly dreary today and it has been a while since I have managed to sit down and actually read a book. I have read half of the book now and find myself addicted to the story within the pages. I’m only taking a break now because my headache requires a nap!

The characters of this book feel incredibly diverse to me, each with a hazy background that is yet to be fully discovered and I have yet to work out which character holds the most importance to the book. Between the trio of would be sleuths and the Detective, there is a range of emotions and personality quirks to come into contact with. I suppose I would put these four characters at the top of my ‘who is in charge of the book’ list.

So far, I have many guesses as to what area the book is heading towards and I definitely feel very invested in what I am reading. I have a feeling that by the time I get to the end reveal, I’ll either feel foolish for not thinking of it or outraged by it being so obscure. The plot is so far tantalizing every one of my senses and leading me on a merry dance of intrigue and murder.

This book feels like a very different avenue for Griffiths to explore but it’s not too far out of the comfort zone for me to find it lacking in any way. The premise of the book sounded interesting to me, but I will confess I bought this book purely because Griffith’s had written it and because I didn’t realise that she had released another book.

DS Harbinder Kaur – Originally, I thought this character to be the main one, but that was before I had sussed out the different POVs. DS Kaur presents as a pleasant character but not someone I really felt connected to and not someone I could visualise easily. I felt that much of her character was too vague to get a reading on, which irritated me a little because I could tell that she was a very well written character. Having now finished the book, my opinions of DS Harbinder Kaur have changed. I finished the book thinking about what a good opening it had been to introduce this character and it left me wondering whether this book would be the first in a series starring DS Harbinder Kaur. Kaur isn’t as forthcoming as Ruth Galloway and seems to keep a lot of herself hidden away but I did find her interesting in the ways she held herself and how she operated as a member of the force. Her cultural background impacts her character but it does so in a way that made her more curious to read about and made me more interested in getting to know.

I certainly feel like there is more space for Kaur to grow as I didn’t feel she was as well rounded as some of the other characters featured in the book. There was quite a bit of talk about Kaur’s cases pre-book and this aspect didn’t mesh well for me. It made me feel like I was coming into a story halfway through instead of at the beginning.

The trio below, were the three characters that really became the driving force of the story as I read. Each character was vastly different from each other, their personalities and life experiences being varied and not at all similar. Yet, somehow this strange trio worked well as a unit and united under the guise of solving the murder.

Edwin – Was a soulful man. I enjoyed the way he reminisced about memories passed and his keen observations. Edwin was a character that as I reader, I wanted to believe was real because he seemed like such a sweet man with a kind heart and a keen desire to experience life again. There is definitely more to Edwin than meets the eye and I definitely felt more at home with his chapters than I did with the other characters. Edwin has this quietness about him that makes him a good observer and he isn’t afraid to speak his mind. I was fully behind the concept of giving the elderly gentleman a bit of an adventure. He reminded me of a stereotypical ‘grandfather’ figure and having him as a character brought great warmth to my heart.

Benedict – Benedict did remain a confusing enigma for quite some time because he came fully loaded with a backstory I hadn’t had access to and he seemed completely sure of who he was and yet, I didn’t have the same knowledge. It was hard to place him for a while and I found his P.O.V.s to be rather generic and obvious. My earlier assumptions of Benedict did change but it took most of the book to get me there. While he was a charming character, he didn’t particularly stand out as a character to me and it wasn’t so much as I thought he was hiding things under the surface, as I didn’t think anything was there. I saw him as more of a companion character, of which he did a stellar job, rather than a leading man.

Natalka – Was the most interesting of the three amateur sleuths. It wasn’t just that she was in prime sight of being the most central part of the team, it was also her blunt attitude and fearsome personality. Without her I don’t think the book would have been written with such a driving force as she became the character that really held everyone together.

Let’s talk about multiple P.O.V.s in books because this is something that can either work very well or become so confusing that I eventually stop reading. Here, there were 4 P.O.V.s to digest and that is a lot of different information and opinions to get your head around. Now, I didn’t find myself lost or grasping at straws with this book, but I did find something odd that I couldn’t work out the meaning of. At the beginning of each chapter, beyond the marking of whose POV it is, there is also a note like ‘Natalka: the linking words’ or ‘Benedict: Education, salvation and damnation’. I couldn’t work out whether these were additional chapter titles, or things that referred to the characters themselves. It’s probably not that important but it really bugged me that I couldn’t work out the intent behind them, it became a niggling annoyance throughout reading. I did eventually get over my irritation over the chapters, I just told myself that it didn’t matter – and it didn’t really. The only thing I could think of that had bugged me when I came to the end of the book was the criminal reveal. It wasn’t just bitterness that I hadn’t worked it out sooner, it was the idea that who had been behind it could have done it.

In the Ruth Galloway series and even The Stranger Diaries, I’m used to a certain style of writing by Elly Griffiths and I suppose the criminal reveal here caught me off guard because (A) it was so unlike Griffith’s usual writing and (B) it seemed a little unhinged and ‘needle in a haystack’ for me. However, I concede that this just might be me being picky!

It is clear to me that my feelings and opinions changed from the beginning of the book to the end of the book, but I expected that. I expected when I started reading that there would be an unknown element that would drastically change my opinion of the characters and victims involved and, in that respect, I was not disappointed. This was an easy read, split over a couple of days and read during a time when I was trying to escape a world filled with anxiety. As with all Elly Griffith’s works that I have read, I would recommend this to other people. Those who are a fan of the Ruth Galloway series could read this and experience a new side to Elly Griffith’s writing.

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