Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Judgment of Murder (A Rex Graves Mystery)

Author:  C. S. Challinor
Genre:  Mystery

Paperback, Ebook
ISBN #:  9780738750095
Midnight Ink Publishing
216 Pages
$13.27; $9.49 Amazon
November 8, 2016

Five Stars

It's a dark day for Scottish barrister Rex Graves when he learns that Lord Gordon Murgatroyd has passed away.  Referred to as "Judge Murder" by Rex's colleagues, the famously severe judge supposedly died of natural causes - but his daughter Phoebe thinks otherwise.

Wanting to honor the man who'd always been uncharacteristically kind to him, Rex thinks it would be a good idea to follow up on Phoebe's suspicions...until a meeting with a suspect leaves him drugged and beaten within an inch of his life.  With a target on his back and a child abduction case gripping the region, Rex fears that the judge's death won't be an isolated incident.


Rex Graves, a charming Scottish barrister, reads one morning about the death of a judge who was not well-liked by many, but who always had been kind to him and mentored him.  He decides to call the judge's daughter to offer condolences.  Although the judge was elderly and it appears he passed away in his sleep, Rex is surprised to learn that Phoebe thinks her father was murdered, and since she knows of Rex's success in solving murders, asks his help to prove it.  

He reluctantly agrees to travel to Canterbury to see her, and the evidence indeed is quite flimsy - there is a missing watch and an album of stamps, as the judge was a philatelist, although only by hobby.  Yet who would kill an old man and remove a watch and a stamp album that isn't worth very much?  With very little to work with, Rex sets out to discover the answers to those questions.  While still in Canterbury, he also learns about the mugging of another elderly man who resided there; and of course there is the disappearance of Leslie Poulson, a teenage girl from Dover, and finally there's the case of Richard Pruitt, who sent the judge a stamp for his collection in thanks for his 'not proven' verdict which set him free...  

So Rex decides to meet with Pruitt because he finds this tenuous connection to the judge.  It seems many years ago Judge Murgatroyd convinced a jury not to convict Mr. Pruitt in the murder of a young girl, as he didn't believe there was enough evidence to do so.  Yet after all these years, Pruitt has the suspicion still hanging over his head, and has been trying to find the real murderer in order that he may be vindicated at last. 

But when Rex arrives at Pruitt's home to talk with him about the crime, he has no clue that in doing so he may very well have sealed his own fate.  After drinking some tea he begins to feel fuzzy, and it it is shortly thereafter he is trussed up and very nearly murdered himself.  When he recovers he realizes that something sinister indeed is happening, and it now involves him as a part of the equation...  

 I can say no more about this book without giving it all away, but it is truly wonderful to observe  Rex's brilliant mind work as he begins to take each piece and put it together until he has the puzzle complete.  This formidable and intelligent Scottish barrister is as much fun to see in action as Sherlock Holmes; as he begins to take each occurrence and connect them together to form the solution and find the murderer.

In the end, the reasoning behind the murder is rather twisted and sad, yet when the murderer is caught (as we know the person must be), it is a gratifying conclusion and nothing appears contrived or hurried; we are given a convincing conclusion to a very good tale indeed.

Ms. Challinor has given us another delightful Rex Grave mystery; her ability to weave a story is akin to watching a beautiful tapestry be woven right before our eyes.  We are given first one thread and then another, and eventually they are all bound together flawlessly. This is a story that is pleasant and enthralling; and I anxiously await the next in the series.  Highly recommended.

More on C. S. Challinor's books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/c/c-s-challinor/    

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