RogerBW's Blog

Murder Among Us, Ann Granger 02 September 2022

1992 mystery; fourth of Granger's novels of Chief Inspector Markby and non-detective Meredith Mitchell. The old stately home has finally got an owner who can do something with it: he's turned it into a hotel and high-end restaurant. But a protest by the local historical society during the grand opening ends with one of the protesters found stabbed in the wine cellar.

While I'm still enjoying these books, I really have to demote them to fluff rather than the solid mysteries that the same author's Fran Varady series could be at their best. There's nothing wrong here, and the writing is a pleasure if sometimes a bit stiff; but there's also no real spark, nothing to elevate this cosy mystery above many others.

There's so little development of the relationship between the principals that Granger feels the need to drop in a romance between two characters who are new in this book. This strand, and another involving a sanctuary for elderly horses that's about to be thrown out of its land, both get a lot of narrative time, perhaps because there's no progress on the murder enquiry for quite a while, and something needs to take up the intervening space. (Perhaps they'll link back together. Perhaps not. But while they're happening they still feel like a distraction.)

Alas we also see the return of one of Granger's stock types, the self-important idiot who claims to care for someone while insulting them and everyone else.

These are, I admit, minor niggles, as is a relative lack of pacing to the point that I was quite surprised (consuming this as an audio stream) to discover clear signifiers of revelation and ending, because there really didn't seem to be any sort of escalation of tension up to that point.

I did enjoy the thing, but I tend to feel positive about a well-narrated audio book (in this case by Judith Boyd); I suspect I'd have been less happy had I been reading it and putting up with the continuing lack of progress. Granger usually manages a sense of fun, a hint that she knows how mysteries work and she'll play with the conventions; that's largely absent here.

Not one of the better entries in the series, and it does feel like a series entry, but I'll carry on for now.

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Previous in series: Cold in the Earth | Series: Mitchell and Markby

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