A Murder to Die For was originally published through Unbound, an independent publisher who are successfully using the new patronage model of crowd-funding. I was already aware of Stevyn’s work as a result of helping to crowd-fund his earlier book, Why Did The Policeman Cross The Road, which he discussed when visiting our local cafe a few years back as part of the Skeptics in the Pub presentations. So it was a no brainer to help crowd-fund this new book too.
Stevyn is a natural and entertaining speaker (he was a QI Elf for 11 years), and I knew having seen him speak before that his fiction writing would be a blast. With this first novel, I wasn’t disappointed.
Thoroughly modern Millie
Every year in the quiet village of Nasely, hordes of identically dressed Millicent Cutters arrive to celebrate the life of local murder-mystery author Agnes Crabbe.
Millicent Cutter, or Millie, was Crabbe’s most famous creation: a spirited private detective who solved bizarre murders across myriad best-selling books while having lots of affairs and a ton of fun to boot. Think a much younger, sexier version of Miss Marple (if such an image doesn’t offend your sensibilities.)
This year however, the celebrations in Nasely don’t quite go to plan: there’s been a rather nasty murder of course, and with the town full of amateur detectives who think they can rival Millie’s skills, tensions arise as they try to solve the murder themselves, getting in the way not only of the local police force, but also a local ex-cop who finds himself drawn into the action.
Not only is the story peppered with outrageously named characters, it has some of the funniest scenes I’ve read for years. I can’t really describe any of them without considerable spoilers, but suffice to say if this doesn’t make you laugh out loud at least once you probably have a heart of stone.
Colgan clearly draws on his 30 years experience in the police force to compose this hilarious and compelling murder-mystery. The cast of characters is broad and well rounded, with the local ex-cop clearly based on Colgan himself. And not only does he fill the book with all the tropes and red-herrings you’d expect, he does a brilliant job of upending your expectations and keeping you guessing the whodunnit right until the very end.
With A Murder to Die For, Colgan has constructed a brilliant, laugh-out-loud farce, an intriguing mystery, and a fantastic homage to the golden age of the murder-mystery. I loved it and I can’t wait for the sequel, The Diabolical Club, which is currently funding on Unbound.
Top quality entertainment, this is a book to die for…