Murder Lies Waiting (2018) by Alanna Knight

New author for me, though not one I think I will be returning to anytime soon. Murder Lies Waiting is set in 1906 and is book 8 in the Rosie McQuinn series. Piecing together her current living situation and her past takes a lot of careful reading as it is confusingly drip fed to the reader in the first few chapters, but this is what I have hopefully gleaned: Rosie is in her 40s. Her father was a policeman and she married a man, whose work took him to be a part of the Pinkerton Detectives Agency in America. However he suddenly disappears and I am presuming he is dead, as Rosie is now married to Chief Inspector Jack Macmerry, living in Edinburgh. They have a daughter, though she is not Rosie’s biological child. Whether she is Jack’s from another woman or some kind of adoption I am not sure, but it is oddly referred to in the book as Rosie getting a child for her husband, as she has been unable to have one herself.

However, to the mystery. Rosie for various reasons ends up going on holiday with her housekeeper Sadie to the Isle of Bute, but it is all a ruse on Sadie’s part, who has a secret past on the island. She was accused of killing her step brother 20 years previously, though the verdict was eventually one of not proven. She seems keen to have her name cleared due to matrimonial prospects and Rosie our lady investigator is eventually persuaded to investigate. Yet to be honest it seems somewhat of a tall order, as Sadie says her step brother was once more fighting with her at the top of the stairs when he tripped and fell. There were no witnesses, just people who heard them arguing. Equally Rosie only has one week in which to do the task and she is not even sure Sadie is being all that truthful, given how her head is soon turned by another man.

Overall Thoughts

So yes I have already flagged up the dead end nature of the mystery, as how on earth could such an incident be explored 20 year later unless Sadie has missed out a heap of information or there was some unknown witness. It was still surprising though at the end when Sadie’s name is not cleared in anyway and no new light is put on the situation. This whole starting point to the plot is ridiculous in how it is not dealt with at all at the end of the book.

My other major problem with the book is that in a 300+ novel, nothing happens and no real new information is brought to light in the first 220 pages. The most dramatic thing to happen is Sadie gets influenza and the ferries can’t run because of the bad weather! The final 80 pages are overloaded with dramatic incident, which often have no link to the earlier death and which are resolved in such a poorly anti-climactic way, that again there is little interest or point in them.

All in all the plotting is dire, given the inadequate balancing of the plot events, which understandably effects the pacing. The solution to the book, which only deals with recent events, is given away very clumsily and is easily guessable to the reader very early on. Melodrama for the sake of melodrama is foisted into the final pages, which has very little effect or purpose. Consequently I am baffled by The Times quote which says, ‘Master of Crime,’ as clearly mystery writing is not this writer’s forte in the least. Cluing, investigation and solution are all sadly lacking in the extreme. I am further flummoxed by a quote on the cover by Ian Rankin, which says ‘Alanna Knight could hardly be better.’ I’ll leave you to draw your own interpretation of this comment…

Rating: 2.5/5

Calendar of Crime: May (7) Book Title Has Word Beginning with M

9 comments

    • haha good question. I think 1/5 novels don’t tend to be books I actually finish reading. Though one exception on the blog is Sins for Father Knox, but that was when I first started blogging. Another book I read last month, plunged to 1/5 based on the ending, (fairly dire though before that point), hence it getting finished, as but as a review copy I decided to not post a review.

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  1. Ian Rankin — a serious contender for a 1/5 in one of the books I read to the bitter, bitter end. Even my wife, who usually likes Rankin, hated it.

    I think I have started a lot of 1/5 books, some based on mystery blog reviews alas, but they get dropped quickly.

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  2. You really should post poor reviews of any book you receive. But I guess if you truly hate the book then it’s probably best to skip a review. Obviously you can’t review a book if you never finished it. As for restrained and intelligent critical reviews PR people do appreciate them. I would hope that the writers appreciate them as well. Plus, it’s a beneficial service to the reading public who often don’t get to read reviews calling out a book for its faults and weaknesses in mainstream press.

    Brave soul for chugging on to the end. I’d have ditched this one after a few chapters. Boggles my mind how books like this get published.

    Solution to the mystery of the Rankin quote: Authors are often paid a nice sum of money to have their name attached to a “quote” written by publicity and marketing people. The paid author rarely actually reads the book in question. You should always disregard author blurb quotes on books, most of them are phoney.

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    • I agree with you on reviews pointing out with the weaknesses in books. To have a blog full of 5/5 reads would be implausible to say the least. If I had bought the book which I didn’t review, I would have gone ahead with posting my thoughts on it, as it is fair game. But given how low my rating would have been I’m not sure any publisher would be too impressed with it as a review copy response. The author at least was dead though. If I find a mixture of pros and cons to a book I will still go ahead with reviewing a review copy book, because as you say it makes it a lot more helpful than whitewashing any issues.
      I think I kept going with the Knight book because I was silly enough to think it might suddenly start getting better and develop the initial mystery. Alas when the penny dropped and I realised that wasn’t going to happen, I was more at the I’m nearly finished so I’ll make it to the end, point.
      I don’t notice cover quotes ordinarily and certainly never buy a book based on one, but this one just seemed rather ironic given the poor quality of the story.

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