Publication date: 14th February 2013
A K Benedict’s debut is a thriller set in Cambridge which combines murder with time-travel.
Stephen Killigan, a young lecturer just arrived at Cambridge, finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation when he drunkenly stumbles over the dead body of a beauty queen who disappeared a year earlier. The police look for the body and find no sign of it, and Killigan is suspected of either being a hoaxer or a madman. When the body of a young choir boy is found the day after he goes missing but looking as if he has been dead for a year, Killigan is upgraded from a hoaxer to a murder suspect.
Cambridge is a city with enough idiosyncrasies and history to make it an effective setting for a thriller like this, and the author’s knowledge of the city means that the level of local detail is impressive and adds to the atmosphere of the novel. The villain, Jackamore Grass, is well drawn – arrogant and intelligent, he has been waiting for a worthy opponent and, in Killigan, he thinks he’s found him. The use of the different voices throughout the novel keeps the narrative interesting and the plot zips along a good speed.
There were some niggles though – the occasional anachronism grates, especially as most of the novel was well-researched. Some of the characters seem a little flat and underdeveloped – the police inspector, Jane Horne, is a good example of this. There are some attempts to make her a more rounded character by giving her concerns beyond her job, but it feels a little perfunctory. The dialogue is sometimes forced and Killigan himself crosses the line between witty academic and pretentious twit more than once.
It is a largely well-written, easy to read and compelling thriller which would make a good introduction to a series, but isn’t quite as clever as it thinks it is.
I was sent a review copy by http://www.lovereading.co.uk in return for an honest review. A shortened version of this review also appears on that site.