Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | 2 March 2021 | 336 pgs
Source: NetGalley 

I was so pleased to see that Elly Griffiths decided to write a series featuring DS Harbinder Kaur, who first made her first appearance in The Stranger Diaries. Harbinder is an intriguing character herself; she's a Sikh in her thirties, is gay and lives with her parents. She's the no-nonsense kind and she doesn't really care what people think of her, which is one trait I liked most about her. 

In this book we follow Harbinder to Shoreham, a West Sussex coastal town, to look into the death of a 90-year-old Peggy Smith. Although Peggy is reported to have died of a heart condition, her carer thinks otherwise. Natalka, an Ukrainian young woman who has some knowledge in cryptocurrency dealing, has been taking care of Peggy for a while and knew about her quiet lifestyle and her health condition. She believes there's more than meets the eye surrounding Peggy's death after finding a postcard tucked in one of her books with an ominous message "We are coming for you". Peggy may be old and wheelchair-bound, but in truth she was a smart woman who had offered some of her ideas to several well-acclaimed crime authors about murder plots and how to kill people in the fictional world, thus earning her the title of "murder consultant" among them and it was no surprise her name was often mentioned in their acknowledgements. 

As Harbinder and her partner, DS Neil Winston began their investigation after Natalka's observation, Natalka herself forms her own sleuthing group consisting an ex-monk turns cafe owner (Benedict) and a retired gay radio broadcaster (Edwin) who are all acquaintances of Peggy and living around the area. Their curious probing took a turn when a gunman broke into Peggy's flat and fled away with an out-of-print crime novel, adding more intrigue and suspicion to the already suspicious case. To complicate matters, Natalka thinks she is being followed by two men whom she suspected are Ukrainian mafia for the cryptocurrency fraud years ago. Without any ideas or clues, the two sleuth parties soon find two more authors dead. Both authors knew Peggy and they too had received the same ominous message. Who is targeting these authors and for what reason? 

Once again, I find myself captivated by Ms Griffiths' way of plotting and executing the story, as well as her interesting cast of characters who are unique and unforgettable in their own ways. Natalka, Benedict and Edwin may have nothing in common and their personalities differ, but they've an astonishing chemistry and I enjoyed reading their observations and their theories. Harbinder's character continues to be a delightful read, but I was more drawn to the literary theme surrounding the mystery and the interesting trio that made this book such a fun read despite the dark mood of murders. And oh, if you've read The Stranger Diaries, you may be pleased to see Clare has made an appearance in this book, though she has no connection to the story and each book stand on its own. 
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16 Responses
  1. Susan Says:

    I can't keep up with Griffiths and all her different series! I have to catch up with the Ruth Galloway books before I move on to another one. It's a good problem to have, though - it's nice to know that one of your favorite authors has so many other books out there that you haven't read yet!

  2. Kay Says:

    I'm so glad to hear your thoughts on this book. I'll be reading The Stranger Diaries very soon as our mystery group is discussing it for February. And then this new one will be available before long. Good to know as then I can relate that info to the group and those who enjoyed the other one. I love Elly Griffiths!

  3. Harbinder sounds like a very interesting character. I would very much like to get to know her better. I haven't read anything by this author, but I keep meaning to. This sounds like a great place to start.

  4. Lark Says:

    I did really like The Stranger Diaries. But I'm behind in Elly Griffiths two other series. Who knows when I'll get caught up on any of them. :)

  5. Iliana Says:

    Great review, Melody! I really enjoyed The Stranger Diaries so I want to read this one. I thought Harbinder was a great character so I'm glad she gets her own series too.

  6. Mystica Says:

    I read one book and now must try to track the others. Thanks for this review.

  7. Melody Says:

    Susan - I still have a lot to catch up on with her Ruth Galloway series. So many books, so little time!

  8. Melody Says:

    Kay - I hope you'll enjoy The Stranger Diaries and this book, too. Harbinder is a great character and I think these two books will make a good bookclub discussion, too.

  9. Melody Says:

    Wendy - I like Harbinder and I'm really glad that she has her own series. Hope you'll enjoy this series when you get to them, Wendy.

  10. Melody Says:

    Lark - The Stranger Diaries was a good one, wasn't it? Glad we read it as our buddy read, too. :) I'm always behind when it comes to series books, but at least I know I'll not be short of books to read. ;)

  11. Melody Says:

    Iliana - Thanks, Iliana! I'm so glad that the author decided to write more of Harbinder. And I can't wait to read the next book already!

  12. Melody Says:

    Mystica - My pleasure, Mystica. Hope you'll enjoy the rest of her books!

  13. jenclair Says:

    I was glad see Harbinder take on a new case and enjoyed the secondary characters a great deal! It was nice to see Clare have a cameo, although this book is very different from The Stranger Diaries.

  14. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - It was a great read and indeed it does have a different feel from the Stranger Diaries. Still, I enjoyed these two books. :)

  15. I NEED to read The Stranger Diaries this year! Especially as this one sounds really good so I want to read it as well but would like to read them in order. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Melody Says:

    Sam - I hope you'll enjoy reading these two books, Sam!

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