Murder at Midnight
A Rex Graves Mystery
Midnight Ink, August 2014
From the publisher—
When barrister Rex Graves and his fiancée Helen d’Arcy host a New Year’s Eve party at Gleneagle Lodge, friends and colleagues alike enjoy the evening with drinks flowing freely. Despite the oncoming storm, unlucky number of guests, and argument over long-lost treasure, Rex has high hopes that it will be a memorable and murder-free night of celebration.
But as the clock strikes midnight and the power goes out, Ken and Catriona Fraser are found dead. Suspecting they were murdered for money or revenge, Rex starts to investigate. Will his formidable intellect and detection skills be enough to uncover the culprit?
Rex Graves is comfortable for me. Especially thrilling? No, but I could gladly spend an afternoon with him whenever he’s available and Murder at Midnight filled my wants just fine, even though I think this particular entry in the series is a little weaker than previous books. So, let me tell you first what I think those weaknesses are:
1. One particular clue-gathering scene by the police seems very unlikely as to whether it would be possible at all but especially in a country locale and with power out.
2. The denouement is kind of boring because of its manner with no real confrontation, and the resolution is thin.
Yep, that’s it, not a whole lot to complain about 😉
What we have here is almost, but not quite, a closed room mystery and I really love such scenarios. The potential killers are limited in number and the snow, plus the remoteness of the manor, make intruders unlikely but not impossible so Rex and the reader can’t get too complacent. The guests at this New Year’s Eve party are a strange bunch, perhaps a reflection that we all have friends and colleagues that aren’t the most compatible, and even their idea of a New Year’s Eve party is a bit odd, downright sedate for such an occasion.
The Scotland locale is ideal for this kind of mystery, one that doesn’t include overt violence, gore, vicious behavior and the like. Ms. Challinor creates understated puzzles that require thinking and Murder at Midnight is a pleasure for a rainy—or snowy—afternoon’s read. As for the characters, the country house setting is the perfect place to get to know such a diverse collection because they’re almost forced to be in one another’s company and actually talk among themselves, dropping little tidbits about their lives. I enjoyed them all, just as much as my old friends Helen and Chief Inspector Dalgerry.
This latest Rex Graves story is a nice example of the traditional mystery and fans of Agatha Christie will most certainly be entertained.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2014.