cover image How to Solve Your Own Murder

How to Solve Your Own Murder

Kristen Perrin. Dutton, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-0-593-47401-3

Perrin’s twisty debut revolves around a challenge issued from the grave. In 1965, Frances Adams develops a lifelong fear of being killed after a fortune teller at an English country fair warns her that “all signs point toward your murder.” Decades later, a now-wealthy Frances summons her great-niece, Annie, to discuss her will in the sleepy village of Castle Knoll, even though the 25-year-old aspiring mystery novelist has never met her eccentric aunt. Minutes after Annie arrives at the estate with Frances’s lawyers, they discover her dead body slumped behind the desk in her library. Frances’s will states that she expected to be murdered, and that the first person to solve the crime within a week will inherit her assets and property; if no one cracks the case, it all goes to an unpleasant real estate developer. Annie leaps into action, quickly discovering that plenty of Castle Knoll locals have long coveted her late aunt’s fortune. Perrin juxtaposes timelines, detailing Frances’s provincial life in the 1960s while Annie’s investigation grows increasingly treacherous in the present. The pace is quick, the red herrings are plentiful, and Annie’s growth from timid wannabe writer to confident sleuth is beautifully rendered. Combining elements of Agatha Christie, Anthony Horowitz, and Midsomer Murders, this is a richly entertaining whodunit from a promising new talent. Agent: Jenny Bent, Bent Agency. (Mar.)