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Book Cover

Kristen Perrin

How To Solve Your Own Murder

In 1965 three friends, Frances, Rose and Emily, visit a fortune teller and one of them is told she will be murdered. She will never disbelieve this dire future and allows it to dominate her life. So starts this wonderfully complicated story of disappearance and murder.
You have to keep your wits about you to enjoy the twists and turns of the plot. But then so does Annie, the narrator and principal character, who knows as little about the other characters as we do. Invited to meet for the first time her Great Aunt Frances and a lawyer who is dealing with her will, she finds herself in the small Dorset town of Castle Knowle and is thrown into a new world in which everyone knows more than she does. This includes shocking surprises about her own mother’s background. And then her own.
A sudden, if predicted, death and a strange command mean that she finds herself forced to play the detective, that is if she wants a chance of a large inheritance. Gradually three generations of Knowle’s inhabitants make their appearance, each one to Annie’s newly sharpened senses, hiding some sort of secret. There is the handsome detective Crane whose family suffered at the hands of her Great Aunt because the fortune teller had implicated a bird name in her murder. There is Joe, Rose’s son, who’s running an illegal drug business in his polytunnel, but still hiding something else. Rose herself still seems obsessed by Frances as if the past was ever present. There’s the odious Elva who is determined that her husband, Frances’s great nephew, Saxon, should inherit.
Nobody seems quite what they appear on the surface. And to make matters more exciting for the intrepid reader-sleuth, the story unfolds both through Annie’s eyes and also in the diary that her Great Aunt kept in that destructive summer of 1965 and beyond. The answers when they come, hark back to the dysfunctional and threatening relationships at that time. The guessing game swings between past and present.
As another body is discovered and Annie gets nearer to unravelling the mystery, she puts herself into the line of fire. The strength of Kristen Perrin’s first novel is her strong portrayal of Annie, creating someone who, although weak and often unnerved, with a tendency to faint at important moments, is also determined to discover the murderer. She wants to be a writer and it seems to be the writer in her who works on understanding the characters and their motivation.
This is not a novel for those who want to be scared out of their wits but it is for those who want a well-constructed drama, set in Castle Knoll almost as if under the artificial lights of a stage. The characters take their turn to show themselves and, as their disguises fail, reveal themselves in the brighter light of day. It is a Dorset story but not, I trust, a typical one.

Rachel Billington

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