cover image The Next to Die

The Next to Die

Sophie Hannah. Morrow, $26.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-238835-3

In this underwhelming standalone from bestseller Hannah (The Mystery of Three Quarters and two other Hercule Poirot pastiches), a team of British Major Crimes officers, who spend more time sniping at each other than investigating, search for serial killer Billy Dead Mates, so-named because his four victims consist of two pairs of best friends. In the weeks before their deaths, the three women and one man murdered by Billy Dead Mates each found a small white book, with a blank cover and a few handwritten words inside, in her or his possession. Meanwhile, British comedian and author Kim Tribbeck, an obnoxious narcissist, inserts herself into the case. Kim even insists that her strict rules for interviews, which include specifications for exact punctuality and having a “packet of pickled-onion-flavored Monster Munch crisps” on hand, apply when she comes in to help the police with their inquiries. The unsatisfying ultimate reveal will only add to the disappointment of fans of Hannah’s much better efforts. Those looking for an offbeat, comic police procedural will do better with Lynne Truss’s A Shot in the Dark. (Feb.)