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 novels. 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.