Death of a Mystery Writer

Joining the Downton Abbey bandwagon, I decided to read some books set in the same time. That's how I picked up Death of a Mystery Writer by Robert Barnard. The book was originally published in 1979 and received an Edgar nomination for best novel. I can see why. Barnard is a new author for me.

The book opens on a Saturday night at the local pub. A man is sitting at the bar by himself. He has been over served and knocks over another patrons glass. A verbal altercation ensues and he is identified as Sir Oliver Fairleigh's son, Mark. Sir Oliver is a mystery writer of some success. Mark makes a claim that someone should shoot his father, that the man would be better off dead. And that he (Mark) would certainly be better off.

The story line weaves through the next week. Fairleigh is not a nice man, in fact he likes to stir things up. It doesn't matter who or what he stirs up the tumult is what he desires. And stir things up he does. He insults his wife, his children (except his daughter), his neighbors, and his publisher on a routine basis. It's no wonder someone poisons him at his birthday dinner.

Enter Chief Inspector Meredith who seems to have come right out of one of Fairleigh's mystery novels. Meredith has his hands full. Fairleigh was killed in a method detailed in one of his books. But still, who did it? The will provides some answers, but after it sends the family into an uproar when Fairleigh leaves most of his estate to his son Mark (the black sheep) and the royalties from a book that was never published to his wife.

The book moves along at a brisk pace. The characters are interesting and it seems that everyone has a secret Inspector Meredith must discover before he can solve the question of who killed Fairleigh. I quite enjoyed this book, it's a fast read with a good mystery at the heart of it. The library owns 15 mysteries by Barnard, all definitely worth the read.

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