From the author of Boyfriend Material and Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake comes a cozy mystery that revisits the Golden Age of detective fiction, starring a heroine who’s more podcaster than private eye and topped with a lethal dose of parody — perfect for fans of Clue, Knives Out, and Only Murders in the Building!
When up-and-coming true crime podcaster Liza and her corporate financier wife Hanna head to a luxurious hotel in the Scottish Highlands, they’re hoping for a chance to rekindle their marriage – not to find themselves trapped in the middle of an Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery with no way home. But who better to take on the case than someone whose entire profession relies on an obsession with all things mysterious and macabre? Though some of her fellow guests may consider her an interfering new media hack, Liza knows a thing or two about crime and – despite Hanna’s preference for waiting out the chaos behind a locked door – might be the only one capable of discovering the killer. As the bodies rack up and the stakes rise, can they save their marriage — and their lives?
A common refrain when examining classic entertainment is, “This would never happen in the modern age because we have smartphones and the internet!”
WELL, Alexis Hall proves that phones and the internet won’t always help you if you happen to be dropped into the plot of a Golden Age mystery. As protagonists Liza and Hanna prove, sleuthing and wits are paramount to survival when trapped with a killer on the loose.
The core of every good mystery is a well-rounded cast of victims—er, characters. Hall delivers here: in addition to our main duo, there’s a vicar, a retired colonel, a professor, a dowager, a femme fatale, and several others. There isn’t a lot of character development with the secondaries, but that’s kind of the point: these characters need to stick to their assigned roles as a part of the bigger picture.
Liza and Hanna, however, do experience growth over the course of the mystery. They were supposed to have a relaxing getaway, and being thrust into the middle of a MURDER is the opposite of relaxing. So, on top of trying to work through their personal issues, they also have to avoid being murdered whilst snowed in, with no way to escape.
The narrative unfolds from Liza’s perspective, which makes sense because she’s the true crime podcaster. I loved Liza’s determination to solve the case, as well as her refusal to be dismissed by others for being an amateur. There’s a bit early in the book about Liza feeling a bit adrift with her degree in art history—compared to Hanna’s maths degree—until finding her niche with the podcast. That resonated with me personally as an English major married to a computer science major, so it was great to see Liza take on the challenge of solving the mystery.
The murder mystery is at the forefront of the plot, but the simmering tension of Liza and Hanna’s failing marriage is a constant presence in the background. This added an additional layer of depth to the narrative, and I found myself just as concerned about whether their marriage would survive the weekend as I was with both of them avoiding being murdered.
I would absolutely recommend Murder Most Actual. This book is a delightful mashup of Agatha Christie and board Cluedo/Clue. Some of the references are subtle, and some are more overt, but they both had me laughing out loud as I nodded in recognition.
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I received a digital ARC of this book from Kobo Original/NetGalley.
About the Author
Alexis Hall is an English author of urban fantasy, science fiction, and m/m romance. His novels include Murder Most Actual, Boyfriend Material, Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake, For Real, Glitterland, Iron & Velvet, Looking for Group, and Pansies.
His work has been nominated for to the 26th Lambda Literary Awards, 28th Lambda Literary Awards, and 29th Lambda Literary Awards in the category of Gay Romance.
Connect with Alexis Hall online at https://quicunquevult.com/