Monday, June 18, 2012

Murder at the End of the World by Jonathan Garrett

Quoted from GoodReads:  When the wife of a politician is murdered in the isolated port-city of Illdara, junior detective Allison Newberry is sent in to keep the case from growing cold. It's the assignment that no one else wants to deal with.

The case is immediately complicated by the nature of the city. Everyone is cold and unfriendly, unwilling to answer even the most basic questions from an outsider. Even the chief inspector is more concerned with Allison's eventual departure than with the actual outcome of the case.

To make matters worse, clues are scarce and little about the murder makes sense. No attempt was made to hide the woman's body, nor was her money or jewelry taken. The initial investigation turns up nothing but dead ends. Then a second victim appears: a homeless man killed in exactly the same manner. A single clue is left behind, the petal of a flower, which leads Allison to the darkest corners of the city.

The suspicion and paranoia, the empty buildings and empty streets, the whispers of strange happenings in the night, it's clear that something is wrong in Illdara. Somehow it all ties back to the murders, somehow everything makes sense, but Allison constantly struggles against the very nature of the city to try to find some clue, some shred of evidence that will bring the killer to light. Something is wrong in Illdara, something very wrong, and it may put Allison's life in danger.

Even so, murder has been committed and there's still a murderer out there who needs to be brought to justice.

MURDER AT THE END OF THE WORLD is a mystery novel that blends elements of fantasy and horror with the traditional detective story.
Written by an American, Jonathan Garrett, this short mystery novel has a decidedly British flavor. It is unclear in what the time period this story takes place, but the lack of technology would indicate sometime prior to cell phones and lap top computers. It has an overall "Nancy Drew"-ish feel to it.

The isolated city of Illdara is quite unique. Garrett spends a lot of time and detail in building this world. The result is wonderfully dark and mysterious - a perfect setting for his story.

Allison Newberry, a persistent new detective, is stranded in Illdara with the task of solving a murder. Allison's history is touched on briefly here and there throughout the novel, but not enough for me to feel that she was really three dimensional. I would have liked to see character development and more of her background story. I really didn't feel a connection with this character. I think more information into her past would have gone a long way in making her a sympathetic heroine.

The other characters in the novel were very flat. I knew little about any of them and therefore, I was not pulled into the mystery of the murder the way I would have liked to have been.

With some time and attention to the character development, this novel could have rated higher. The basic plot is good and as I mentioned before the setting is perfect for a Gothic mystery.

Is this a bad novel? Not by any means, however, it could be much better. I would recommend it for a young adult audience that is new to the murder mystery genre.