Book Review: The Perfect Murder by Stewart Giles

About the Book

Two cats are found mutilated in the same town. Detective Harriet Taylor is reluctant to investigate, but then one of their owners is killed a bizarre way that same day.
Harriet and the team step in. The dead woman has four words written on her neck — four very ambiguous words.
Then another body turns up with the same words written on it.  Harriet fears the worst — a serial killer is on the loose in the small Cornish town of Trotterdown.
Can Harriet stop the murders and work out the connection to the local writing group who, conveniently enough, have been set the task of writing stories on the theme of “the perfect murder”?
A crime mystery with a touch of black humour. You’ll enjoy this fast-paced and dark unearthing of the secrets of a sleepy Cornish community.

My Thoughts

What a great start to the book! We are at the scene while the perfect murder occurs. But wait! We soon discover that this murder hasn’t happened.  It’s the work of a writer who is sharing his story with his writing group.

In the space of a few days, we discover that all the fictitious ‘Perfect Murder’ stories read aloud that night are being enacted in real life. Suspicion immediately falls on the writing group members as they are the only people who heard the stories.

Detective Harriet Taylor and her colleagues are stymied.  They know the manner in which people will die but the victims to date have been chosen randomly, so it’s hard to know who to warn.  As the team work through the clues that are taking them in all directions, the pressure is mounting as each murder is taking place on consecutive days.

Here’s the “but”. I do think the “gripping crime mystery with a dark twist” descriptor is misleading. While the crimes were heinous, the manner in which the story unfolded leaned more on the cosy mystery side than on the dark side. I was expecting a heavier read and this was not it. The pacing felt slow and the team unfortunately came across as a group of plodders. And it definitely did not help that I guessed who the murderer was well before the end of the book.

This police procedural is generally well written. I was hooked after the excellent start but overall the book did not meet my expectations in terms of how it was marketed. I do plan on reading the first Harriet Taylor book but will begin with a clearer understanding of the author’s writing style for this series.

This would be a good choice for readers who prefer a lighter touch in police procedural books.

About the Author

I grew up in the north-east of England and after leaving university, I set off travelling with my future wife, Ann. We finally settled in South Africa where we still live. I own a boat shop by the Vaal Dam and life couldn't be more peaceful. 

A few years ago, my wife dropped a rather large speaker on my head and the idea for a series of detective novels came to me. Whether she dropped it on purpose is still a mystery. 

When I'm not writing, I spend my time sailing yachts on the Vaal Dam, playing electric guitar and trying to keep up with my soon-to-be teenage daughter.