My grateful thanks to Matthew Smith at Urbane Publications for a copy of Miss Christie Regrets by Guy Fraser-Sampson in return for an honest review.
Miss Christie Regrets was published by Urbane on 12th January 2017 and is available for purchase in e-book and paperback from the publisher.
I have previously had the pleasure of interviewing Guy Fraser-Sampson on Linda’s Book Bag and you can read that interview here.
Miss Christie Regrets
The second in the Hampstead Murders series opens with a sudden death at an iconic local venue, which some of the team believe may be connected with an unsolved murder featuring Cold War betrayals worthy of George Smiley. It soon emerges that none other than Agatha Christie herself may be the key witness who is able to provide the missing link.
As with its bestselling predecessor, Death in Profile, the book develops the lives and loves of the team at ‘Hampstead Nick’. While the next phase of a complicated love triangle plays itself out, the protagonists, struggling to crack not one but two apparently insoluble murders, face issues of national security in working alongside Special Branch.
On one level a classic whodunit, this quirky and intelligent read harks back not only to the world of Agatha Christie, but also to the Cold War thrillers of John Le Carre, making it a worthy successor to Death in Profile which was dubbed ‘a love letter to the detective novel’.
My Review of Miss Christie Regrets
When Peter Howse is found murdered, his death will lead to some surprising revelations echoing back many years.
If you are a lover of visceral, hard hitting crime and strong language, Miss Christie Regrets is not the book for you. This is a narrative that, whilst set in modern society, harks back to an age when there were polite manners and genteel individuals. Indeed, it could almost be described as old-fashioned and slightly tame in a world that has become inured to violence, but I think this is what will make it appeal to readers who love, for example, Agatha Christie mysteries. It certainly made a pleasant change not to have liberally sprinkled expletives in a crime novel.
I haven’t read the first book in this series, Death in Profile, but it didn’t matter at all as Guy Fraser-Sampson skilfully weaves in references to Miss Christie Regrets that enlighten and engage the reader without the need to have a full understanding of the first book in the series, although I think it would make some of the references even more enjoyable to have read it.
The plot is well constructed and I liked the literary references throughout so that there was an extra layer of intrigue for the reader in spotting them and wondering about their role. I thought the conceit of including the title of the novel, as a possible title of a novel, was amusing and intelligent as was having Agatha Christie as an integral element of this Agatha Christie style read.
I did feel that the language was a little self-consciously erudite at times and wasn’t entirely convincing in some of the situations described. It was the direct speech that caused me the most concern and I felt there were too many adverbial modifiers attached to the way in which characters spoke that occasionally interrupted the flow of the read for me.
However, Miss Christie Regrets is a charming, traditional whodunnit that will appeal to those who want a good plot with traditional values. It is also a novel that, whilst not a psychological thriller or hard hitting crime drama, is a story that makes the reader exercise their little grey cells as they try to solve the murder cases.
About Guy Fraser-Sampson
Guy Fraser-Sampson has been a corporate lawyer, an investment banker and a business school academic, in which capacities he has written various books on finance, investment and economics. However, he is best known as a writer of fiction, and his three Mapp & Lucia novels have all been optioned by BBC television. His writing in The Hampstead Murders series harks back, sometimes explicitly, to the Golden Age. He appears regularly on radio, television and at literary festivals. He is married with two grown-up sons and divides his time between London (NW3 naturally) and East Sussex.