Monday, 3 April 2017

Book Review: Murder at Rutherford Hall by P.B. Kolleri

Book: Murder at Rutherford Hall 

Author: P.B. Kolleri 

Pages: 226

Read: Kindle ebook via Kindle Unlimited

Read in: 2 hours 

Publisher: Notion Press

Plot Summary: Set in 1946 England, Murder at Rutherford Hall starts with a woman in white running out of the mist with blood (not hers) covering her hands. After a few days, the body of the Lord of the manor is found and then there are a couple of other deaths, which Jeremy Richards, retired Scotland Yard Detective and Rachel Markham (the dead Lord's niece) team up (unwittingly) to solve. 

General Thoughts: We stumbled up P.B. Kolleri's work during our stay at La Villa Bethany in Landour. We were growing their cozy and well-stocked library when we saw the second book in the Rachel Markham series on a shelf. Sunita, the owner of La Villa Bethany, told us that that particular shelf housed the works of all the authors who had stayed at the homestay and encouraged us to read the book. So, that's how we got into this author and have so far read 5 books in the Rachel Markham series. 

Things I Liked: 

1. The premise is interesting- a murder mystery set in post-war England and a series about a female detective! How interesting! 

2. The crimes seemed very unconnected and random, which made you wonder about motive as a reader. There are a few obvious red herrings but the author does not dangle them in front of us for too long and they're all quite quickly cleared. 

Things I Didn't Like: 

1. I say this from having now read five books by this author- this is her weakest work! The series gets better with each book- the journey is slow, but by book five, it seems like P. B. Kolleri has found her voice. 

Murder at Rutherford Hall is the first book in the series and all first books need to do a little bit of character-development. We don't get to know anything about Rachel, apart from the fact that she loves detective books, is in her early 20s, is pretty and very suddenly "becomes a young woman and is a girl no more" once she discovers the body of her uncle! We 

Similarly, we are told a backstory about Jeremy but we don't really get to know him as a person. In fact, even five books down, he just comes across as a supporting character in the series, whereas he is the one who is an experienced homicide detective with over twenty years of experience at Scotland Yard! He is often shown not figuring out who the killer is until Rachel cracks the case.. and Rachel is a highly sheltered rich girl, who just happens to solve her first case by sheer chance! This plot device and structure is a bit difficult to swallow! Just does not seem credible! 

2. The killer is obvious from the moment he makes his first appearance at the Hall! And this is mainly due to the red herrings being so obviously red herrings that you have to discount them much before the authorities do! The killer's motives are not very clear when we first meet him.. and I think that's because the author was unclear why this killer did what he did! 

3. The writing is average and could be better- it does get better with each book.. it is just very awkward and stilted in this one!

4. The author gets details about the context and the period quite, quite wrong! This is post-WWII England and there are descriptions of feasts and dinner parties with little or no concern for rationing! Things like butter, lemons, flour etc. were rationed even after the war ended, but the author seems blissfully unaware of that! To be fair, she does get it right in the second to fifth book in the series. 

Rating: 2/5 
(The series gets better after this, trust me!) 

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