Sunday, July 26, 2015

Murder Comes Calling (A Rex Graves Mystery)

Author:  C. S. Challinor
Genre:  Mystery, Suspense

Paperback; ebook
ISBN #:  9780738745480
Midnight Ink
216 Pages
$11.95; $11.99 Kindle
August 8, 2015

Five Stars

When a spate of murders takes place in the quiet riverfront community of Notting Hamlet in South-Central England, Scottish barrister Rex Graves is called upon to lend his investigatory expertise.  For the first time in his sleuthing career, Rex finds he has good reason to fear for his life.


Rex Graves is a Scottish advocate (barrister) who has traveled from his home in Edinburgh to the small community of Notting Hamlet in England to help his friend from college, Malcolm Patterson, a retired pathologist.

It seems Malcolm was called on by a neighbor when she went calling on another, Ernest Blackwell, 81, and saw his feet sticking out from his piano through the window of his home and feared something had happened to him.  Something had happened indeed.  Ernest had been murdered, nearly decapitated by a piano wire.  Shortly thereafter, three more bodies were found - Barry Burns, 79; Vic Chandler, 55; and Valerie Trotter, 47 - all murdered, and all in different fashion.  Odder still was the fact that all four had their homes up for sale and were planning to move from Notting Hamlet.  The chief suspect in the murders is their real estate agent, Clint Walker, his footprint having been on the mat of Mr. Blackwell, although no prints were found inside.

But the reason Malcolm called Rex to help - Rex being very good at solving murders in the past - was because of what Malcolm had found on the victims' foreheads:  The letters MNP, his initials, written in the victims' blood.  Fearing someone was out to frame him, he erased the letters and told no one of their existence.  He was afraid that the police may have the wrong man, and he needs Rex's help to find the true murderer.

So when Malcolm tells Rex of this development, he is naturally upset and insists that Malcolm go to the police with this information, telling him it is a serious crime to tamper with evidence and that he has now brought him into it.  After agreeing to do so, Malcolm tells Rex one more thing that didn't make sense; the letter N was backwards, and he wondered if Mr. Walker, if he indeed committed the crime, was dyslexic.

So Rex now has the beginnings of a mystery to solve, and indeed it is quite a mystery:  Four victims, all murdered, and in different fashion.  There is no one M.O. to indicate it was the same person, they had nothing in common except the fact that they were going to sell their homes.  Or did they?  For as Rex digs deeper and finds ways to talk to the residents of Notting Hill, he soon finds that there may be more to the murders than just wanting to sell their homes, and he begins to doubt that the agent may have committed the murders.

And before he discovers the killer or killers, he may inadvertently - with the unwitting help of his old friend Malcolm - put himself and Malcolm in danger from being the next victims in Notting Hill.

This mystery was all I could have asked for, and more.  Rex Graves, Scottish lawyer with a penchant for solving murders, has a wonderful ability to take bits of information and figure out how they piece together, adding snippets of conversations and things he, with his wonderful mind, finds out on his own by doing heavy research.  He never forgets the details; and it is the details that make all the difference in finding out the truth.

I must admit that Ms. Challinor threw in a couple of red herrings, which I followed, unfortunately, and would have brought me to the wrong conclusion in the end.  But isn't this the way a mystery should be?  If you find out the murderer too soon, you've spoiled the book for yourself.  I love a good mystery that makes me think right along with the protagonist, and this was such a book.  Highly recommended.

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