When I first met Christopher Abbott online, he and I hit it off immediately, and after a couple of interviews, I knew that this was a writer destined for the top of the pile. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to read his debut novel; Sir Laurence Dies.
When reading Sir Laurance Dies, you would be forgiven for thinking that you had stumbled into the world of Christie, a Poirot mystery of the highest calibre. It does not take long however for Abbott finds his feet. A unique voice is born and by the time the novel ended, I was sold. This voice is one I cannot wait to hear again.
The plot, as a murder mystery novel should do, begins with a murder. Sir Laurance, as the name suggests, dies in rather dubious circumstances. It falls upon the intelligent shoulders or new super sleuth Dr. Pieter Straay, and the equally intelligent, yet equally different Chief Inspector Drake. Two friends with a shared history, their relationship, and friendship is both tested and nurtured in various stages as the book progresses.
It soon become clear that while there is a very clear format in place, the author has gone to great lengths to ensure that he does not create the stereotypical situation of brilliant detective and bumbling sidekick. Both men are equally intelligent, and approach things from differing angles. Yet it can never be said that they are truly equal. The observant and free thinking mind will always out maneuver the bureaucrat at the end of the day.
The main two characters aside, we are introduced to a thick and detailed cast of supporting characters who are fleshed out in s detail that brings them to life and exploits enough clues in their back stories and alibis to give the reader a chance at working out a few of twists that were to come.
The classic wrap up scene is well-played and beautifully written, the dialogue and approach used by Dr. Straay fitted the build up to his character well, and the revelation, when it came was certainly a jaw dropper… all of them. For Abbot does not just throw us one curveball, but several, each delivered one after another and in such a manner that highlights the intelligence of Dr. Straay and endears him to us even more.
Yet, the adventures are not done, the case of Sir Laurence’s Death may be solved, but there are many other circumstances surrounding this rather mysterious man. Why was he in Amsterdam, what does he have to do with another murder, and why was he frequenting a famous Amsterdam Diamond Merchant.
Set in a time that had the whole world reeling and counting their blessings. A period that is perfectly suited to clever killers, ingenious plans and cunning detectives who always seem to be one step ahead of the game.
For any fan of mystery, this is the book for you. Twists and turns abound and you are guaranteed to still be guessing down to the very last sentence.
5 – Stars