Review: AK Benedict – The Beauty of Murder

I’d been meaning to read The Beauty of Murder for a while. The cover is sumptuous and it sounded a bit different from other crime TBoMnovels. What made me finally push the book up my reading list is that AK Benedict is appearing at Iceland Noir. I find it’s always a more satisfying experience to read an author’s book before you hear them speak, even more so when you’re appearing on the same panel. The book lived up to my expectations and reminded me that I really should read outside my comfort zone more often.

Stephen Killigan arrives in Cambridge to take up the post as lecturer in one of the colleges and finds the city a cold, unfriendly place. One evening he stumbles across the body of a young woman. After calling the police, he finds the victim has vanished although she matches the description of a recently missing beauty queen. He is plunged into the world of serial killer Jackamore Grass and travels through time from the present day to the seventeenth century in a bewildering world of deceit and horror.

The Beauty of Murder is an enticing meld of thriller, supernatural, fantasy and philosophical reflection. There’s also a strong police procedural element in the book and, without giving too much of the plot away, I thought the medical problems faced by the detective Jane Horne was a touching and interesting subplot. The main thrust of the book though is the time leap murders that take place. I found them confusing, great fun and absolutely fascinating. You have to surrender yourself to the narrative and let yourself be swept along. The language of the writing is as gorgeous as the cover and is rich with murderous imagery.

A complete departure for me, in terms of reading, but I loved it.


21 thoughts on “Review: AK Benedict – The Beauty of Murder

  1. This sounds fascinating. It seems, alas, not to have been published over here, although copies of the UK editions are available fairly cheaply on Amazon. I’m sort of pretty tempted, although it goes against the grain to buy from the Site of Satan.


  2. Margot Kinberg

    Sarah – Oh, this does sound interesting! I like the tie-in of past and present and even though I’m not usually one for the serial-killer kind of murderer, this sounds as though it’s not too stereotyped. Glad you enjoyed it.


  3. tracybham

    You are right about “serial killer.” The minute I see that in a review I get a negative reaction. I have several serial killer books unread and I am sure some of them are very good, but I really resist that theme.

    However, the rest of your review, including the inclusion of “supernatural, fantasy and philosophical reflection” makes it sound very enticing. If it comes out here or I run into it somewhere, I will follow up on this book.


  4. It really is a gorgeous cover! I must admit I’m a bit wary of the fantasy element – this seems to be one that defies genre pigeonholing. You are right about reading their work before an author speaks, as otherwise you end up rushing out to buy them anyway…don’t know if this one’s for me; I should step out of my comfort zone more though…


  5. Sarah, I liked your line, “I found them confusing, great fun and absolutely fascinating.” I feel that way about a lot of novels I read and although I find it frustrating at times, it doesn’t take away my enjoyment of reading them.


  6. It’s been a very long while since I read a contemporary serial killer novel as I often find them both mechanical and a real turnoff but I have to say this sounds a lot more interesting – really enjoyed the review, thanks.


  7. Sarah, your review is ace and this book sounds totally up my alley. Thank you!! I am currently reading ‘An Unsuitable Job for a Woman’ , also set in Cambridge and they all take me back to the Jackson Brodie series, also set in the city. How exciting!


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