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Surprisingly seductive

beauty-of-murderIn theory, this had quite a lot to recommend itself to me, with A-K-Benedict-1x2aits Cambridge setting, its focus on the dark goings on within academia, its central character a metaphysician, and plenty of ethical and moral debates in store, coupled with a curious time-travelling murderer, so lots of history too. A sort of weird squiff of Shardlake and Donna Tartt perhaps.

So I settled down with enjoyment, only to start tutting and sighing extremely quickly. Benedict is a good writer, creates interesting character quickly, crafts the language well – BUT Benedict is also a clever wordsmith, a bit too fond of her own clever, witty word plays – attempting to hide this as her central character’s foibles, but it is fairly clear it is Benedict herself who is a little indulgent with her word plays:

“Well, that’s not very erotic”
“No, but it is erratic”

“Satnam is a minimalist, with a spreadsheet for his bedsheets”

I could feel my ire beginning to rise at the spectacle of someone being self-consciously witty for 400 pages.

And then, quite suddenly and quickly, the book got its claws into me. Our central character is weird, a little damaged, a bit gawky, believable – and at sea. A parallel story unfolds as murders and corpses begin to puzzle our hero. The police team enters on the scene – and our central cop is a female, struggling to come to terms with her diagnosis of breast cancer and the choices to be made. (This is not a spoiler, it is very quickly introduced)

We have a Northerner at large with a slight Northern chip on his shoulders and a sad past as the central character, trying to make sense of himself in an elite intellectual hothouse, and a female detective battling the glass ceiling and a diagnosis.

Clare College Bridge, Cambridge (Andrew Sharpe)

Into the mix strolls a very weird time travelling serial killer (as he would) If you accept the premise – and Killigan, our metaphysician, by trade has to question everything about reality, so it becomes easier for the reader to accept Benedict’s fantasy – particularly as she is so very good at describing the worlds, (mainly 1635 Cambridge and 2012 Cambridge) so very well.Throw in a whole handful of excellently constructed red herrings, a breaking-the-mould quirky librarian and love interest, and, yes, eventually Benedict’s wordplays, and I was eagerly waiting to get back to find out what happens next and resenting interruptions to my reading. Not to mention, the teaser that this could even be the first part of a series….Perhaps not, but Benedict is rather playful!


I originally received this as an ARC through the Amazon Vine programme, UK
The Beauty of Murder Amazon USA
The Beauty of Murder Amazon USA