Christopher Huang, Unnatural Ends (2023)

This ARC seemed intriguing and promised Agatha Christie style mystery, I was sold immediately! It’s set in 1920s England, in a Gothic manor, whose lord has been brutally murdered (in his library of all places). Now, to differ from the Clue game, there was no guest called Colonel Mustard in the living room with a chandelier… But there are 3 heirs on a mission to identify the killer.

Alan, Roger and Caroline are young adults with each their own career after the World War (engineer, archeologist and journalist), living far away from their parents but still under the influence of their strict and domineering father. Upon his death they are called to the manor for the funeral, and discover an unusual twist to their father’s will: the bulk of his fortune will go to the first to find who killed their father.

It’s hard to know where to stop in the story summary without spoiling anyone’s fun. It is a good book and has plenty of good ideas, but it also has some flaws. The three heirs have interesting personalities and their own plots and character developments so that’s on the plus side. I liked how the author makes sibling relationships deep and real. The atmosphere and the themes are also interesting. But the pace is uneven, the father’s figure way too black and white, which makes the whole story too unbelievable. And because it was unbelievable, then it becomes just an intellectual puzzle without caring too much about the characters. That’s the reason why I could figure out the solution halfway through. From Goodreads I gather that it’s not due to my exceptional intelligence (I wish 😉), others have guessed it too, even earlier than me.

In short, the book wasn’t bad, but it would have benefitted from a lot more editing and tightening. And the marketing reference to the great Lady Agatha doesn’t do it any favor.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley. I received a free copy of this book for review consideration

2 thoughts on “Christopher Huang, Unnatural Ends (2023)

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