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