Nine Man's Murder
Review: With an affectionate nod towards Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, Eric Keith weaves an intricate tale of murder at an isolated mountain estate in Nine Man's Murder.
Nine people, who are not exactly strangers to one another, having all graduated from the same detective training agency, but most of whom haven't seen each other in some 15 years, are invited for a weekend reunion by their former teacher, Damien Anderson, to Moon's End, his expansive retreat atop a California mountain. Escorted together from the local train station, they arrive only to find Damien absent. It isn't long before he makes an appearance, though almost certainly not the one he intended: he's found in a closet, dead. Unable to leave — the only road in with a "rickety wooden bridge spanning a deep ravine" having been destroyed and a snowstorm keeping them from venturing too far outdoors — the group is stranded until Monday, when their promised ride back to the train station arrives. But then one of the group, who had assumed a leadership role, is poisoned, apparently — and inexplicably — by a meal that he, himself, had prepared. As the group becomes increasingly suspicious of each other, one by one the body count begins to rise ...
The plot of Nine Man's Murder is certainly familiar, but that does not detract in any way from the appeal of this book. The carefully crafted and meticulously detailed manner in which the story unfolds keeps readers in suspense as to "whodunit", almost from the very beginning. It's impossible to mention individual characters here without giving away key plot points, but all are treated nearly equally throughout — until they're dead, of course — allowing readers to form opinions as to their guilt or innocence as the story progresses. Readers might also want to keep in mind the book's title, which, not so indirectly, is also a subtle clue to the identity of the killer. Too, the X's that accompany the start of each chapter help keep track of how many of the original nine people remain alive.
A minor quibble: the non-linear timeline that comprises the opening, introductory chapters is hard to follow. It's all relevant to the plot, to be sure, but it's not clear why the information is presented in this manner. Compensating for this to some degree is a useful list of the nine players in the "game", as it is referred to, and a floorplan of Moon's End; both are likely to be referred to often.
Acknowledgment: Ransom Note Press provided a copy of Nine Man's Murder for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Nine Man's Murder: California
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Nine Man's Murder by Eric Keith
Publisher: Ransom Note Press
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: March 2011
List Price: $13.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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