Murder on the Lake by Bruce Beckham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Technically a 3.5 read but I rounded up a little because I'm more lenient on self pubbers because everything is on them. I did win this book from Goodreads in exchange for a review but that in no way affected my review.
I do, however, want to break this into two pieces for the review because I liked the mystery more than the style so let me tackle them separately.
Inspector Daniel Skelgill is not just a homicide detective but also a highly dedicated fisherman. He is out on the titular lake trying to land a monster pike in order to win a massive bet. He is flagged over to Grisholm island by a young girl braving the storm. She takes him to an old estate there where someone has died at an author's retreat. Skelgill learns that publisher, Buckley has died, maybe of a heart attack. Others at the retreat include three other pros, Angela Cutting, wealthy book critic, Dickie Lampray, agent and Sarah Redmond, mystery writer along with wanna-be authors, Lucy Hecate, who flagged him down, Burt Boston, a self-proclaimed SAS agent, Dr Bond, Linda Gray, chef and Bella Mandrake, actress and would-be author.
As he goes back to his boat and get his cell phone (the retreat has no electricity or phones), Skelgill finds his boat has become unmoored and is gone (he suspects someone did it). As the body count rises, Skelgill and his team have to run down all the players in this strange game.
I liked the mystery part and the dialog was good. I will say I didn't think it possible really to solve it fully. I figured out who but you couldn't figure out why since that piece really isn't out there until after the fact.
Now as to style, I have to say the characters weren't that well developed well Skelgill was but not so much his two underlings Jones and Leyton (and I could have done without the vaguely homophobic references to the type of men who drink Earl Grey tea). But this is book four and maybe I'm supposed to know them already.
That aside, it is hard to get to know the characters because of the style of writing which could use...I'm not sure what really. It's a close third person on Skelgill most of the time but it's also distant. It's like the narrator is a step removed from the characters and adds a level of distance to it all. It's also present tense which leads to a lot of awkward phrasings. There's plenty of telling instead of showing which really almost made me knock it back a star but I felt generous tonight. Over all though, I enjoyed it.
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