I did wonder if I would cause some kind of readers’ revolt by returning to the Death in Paradise series for the third time in the same month, but as my husband reminded me, my blog is about reading what I love and currently the Death in Paradise series definitely meets that criterion. That said I think a more original title could have been picked. It is a bit like if there was an Inspector Maigret mystery called Murder in France. The beagle eyed readers among you will have noticed that I am reviewing the fourth novel in the Death in Paradise series. The simple reason for that is that third book is still in the post. Fortunately this is a series that you can read out of order, which is fortunate given that my order is: 2nd, 1st, 4th and then 3rd.
‘DI Richard Poole is hot, bothered and fed up. He’s stuck on the tropical island of Saint-Marie, forced to live in a rickety old shack on a beach, and there isn’t a decent cup of tea to be found anywhere. When a boat explodes in the harbour, Richard and his team soon realise there’s a new murderer on the loose. But who is it? And why did the killer leave behind a ruby at the scene of the crime? As the police dig deeper, they uncover secrets that go back decades, and a crime from the past that can never be forgiven. Worse still, they soon realise this is only the beginning. They’ve got to catch the killer before there’s another death in paradise…’
One of the advantages of ploughing through a series over a short space of time is that it is easier to notice any changes in style. Murder in the Caribbean from the get-go deviates from the pattern established in books one and two in this series. Firstly, the prologue is only two pages long and is a first-person narrative, presumably from a killer telling their story. The writing in this section and the subsequent ones with same narrator felt quite generic. It is the type of section which could be fitted into many other crime fiction series. Comparing this one to the prologues from books one and two, I prefer the earlier books’ style, which makes more use of embedding early clues, plus swiftly introducing the victim before they die. This death is usually juxtaposed with Richard Poole’s latest acclimatising woe, as he fails to cope with the Caribbean environment.
Instead, book four initially focuses upon a different series character in chapter one, starting with Dwayne (one of Poole’s subordinates) who is at home. However, it does not take long for Poole to emerge as he is staking out Dwayne’s house, since he is suspicious of his desire to take his sergeant’s exam. Richard Poole thinks he is using the study period allowed to lie in and not work. This develops into a comic subplot which threads throughout the narrative, and I think Thorogood makes good use of these subplots in each of the books that I have read, as they complement the main storyline well. It is when Poole is hot and flustered after being placed in an embarrassing situation that the harbour explosion occurs in book 4. I think this was well-timed, producing a dark comic effect. Nevertheless, this crime feels different to the ones presented in books one and two. There is no run up to the murder to flag possible suspects and the crime scene is far more fluid (in more ways than one) and less fixed, more time is needed to figure out what has occurred. I would also say this is a more sombre crime and this is borne out in the way the explosion was prepped to happen. It just feels darker somehow. Yet true to form Poole uncovers some unusual clues which makes this case more bizarre and baffling and he still gets an odd crime scene item to obsess over – this time it is mystery gravel. Even though this story has its darker elements, it is not a bleak tale, and it still retains the humour of the previous books, particularly in the character of Poole: ‘Richard decided that the time for half measures was over. He took his jacket off. He then realised he felt all wrong, so he put his jacket back and did the front button up as he went to look at the whiteboard.’
SPOILER WARNING – IT IS ADVISED THAT YOU DO NOT TRANSLATE THIS ROT13 CODE IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE SOLUTION TO THIS MYSTERY
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ROT13 CODE SPOILER HAS ENDED
This is the darkest book of the three that I have read, but the author manages to end on a genuinely heart-warming note, which is further proof that a puzzle plot and strong characterisation can occur in the same story. I hope my copy of the third book turns up soon. It is a big shame that Thorogood seems to have stopped writing these books.
A strong indicator for how much you’ve enjoyed a book is if you want to immediately read another by the same author.
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That is true and it has to be said that it has been a while since I have been so keen to keep returning to a series. But something about the Death in Paradise series just works for me at the moment.
“I did wonder if I would cause some kind of readers’ revolt by returning to the Death in Paradise series for the third time in the same month”
I understand this entirely, I felt the same way when I started covering multi-media mysteries (TV, video games, comics, etc.) so heavily! …….And my readership has absolutely fallen off, but I think people will be more forgiving of your DiP reviews! 😛
This is a great review, ACR! Thanks for sharing, I’m glad you enjoyed this book, I do plan to read it on your recommendation as soon as possible! 🙂
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Glad you enjoyed the reviewand I hope you enjoy the book. It is a different case type for the team to solve, so is less a howdunnit. A Meditation in Murder, the first book, is much more a howdunnit. I would not be surprised if you solved Murder in the Caribbean but I don’t think that detracts from the reading experience in the way it might with other mysteries.
Yes, it’s fair to say that I’ve returned over and over again to certain authors on my blog – Paul Doherty, Michael Jecks, Brian Flynn – in a far greater concentration than this. I think I did a whole month of Paul Doherty back in… checks… September 2011 with nine books. So you’ve got some way to go before you become a true obsessive…
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Oh phew! That’s relief. I can start reading Death Knocks Twice with impunity this afternoon then.
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