Tuesday 27 December 2016

Death in Profile - Guy Fraser-Sampson

The genteel fa├žade of London's Hampstead is shattered by a series of terrifying murders, and the ensuing police hunt is threatened by internal politics, and a burgeoning love triangle within the investigative team. Pressurised by senior officers desperate for a result a new initiative is clearly needed, but what? Intellectual analysis and police procedure vie with the gut instinct of 'copper's nose', and help appears to offer itself from a very unlikely source a famous fictional detective. A psychological profile of the murderer allows the police to narrow down their search, but will Scotland Yard lose patience with the team before they can crack the case?

Praised by fellow authors and readers alike, this is a truly original crime story, speaking to a contemporary audience yet harking back to the Golden Age of detective fiction. Intelligent, quirky and mannered, it has been described as 'a love letter to the detective novel'. Above it all hovers Hampstead, a magical village evoking the elegance of an earlier time, and the spirit of mystery-solving detectives. Guy Fraser-Sampson is an established writer best known for his series of Mapp and Lucia novels which have been featured on BBC Radio 4 and optioned by BBC television. This is his debut work of detective fiction, and the first title in the Hampstead Murders series.

What did I think?

If you're looking for a traditional yet quirky murder mystery then look no further than Death in Profile.  It went in directions I never saw coming and kept me on my toes and completely entertained throughout.  It's filled with good old-fashioned police work and is refreshingly devoid of expletives.

I knew from the first word, 'Boyo', that I was going to enjoy Death in Profile.  Boyo is a dog living on the street with his vagrant master. It is Boyo who finds a body in an alley one day and, in a move resembling Lassie, raises the alarm.  The police find this murder similar to other unsolved crimes and, when they run out of ideas, call in profiler Dr Peter Collins.  With Dr Collins' help, a suspect is arrested and found guilty but moments too late an alibi is discovered.

Dr Collins blames himself for the conviction of an innocent man and, like a tortoise in its shell, retreats into the safety of his own brain where Dr Peter Collins becomes Lord Peter Wimsey, the fictional detective.  Hilariously, his partner, DC Karen Willis, and her police colleagues all play along in order to bring him out of his delusion but to also track down the real murderer.

Death in Profile is such good fun and I was enjoying the Lord Peter Wimsey scenes so much that I forgot about trying to solve the crime, and completely missed the hidden clues by not questioning certain things.  WIth the Lord Peter Wimsey delusion, it felt like two books in one as the past and the present collide in order to solve a modern day crime, proving that even with so many technological advances, sometimes all it takes is a clever piece of deduction.

I really enjoyed Death in Profile and I'm eager to see how it compares to the second in the series, Miss Christie Regrets.  With such fresh and amusing writing, I'm sure the Hampstead Murders series will quickly become a modern classic for murder mystery fans.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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