Wait a minute…this is a comedy?
Seriously…is this a comedy?
I was attracted to this book because it was described as the beginning of a new mystery series featuring a brilliant and driven police detective, Constable Twitten, and written by a New York Times best-selling author, Lynne Truss. That this first book featured a theatre critic who holds the keys to an unsolved murder made this doubly appealing to me.
What I didn’t expect was a collection of mostly inept, foppish constables who stumble over crimes as well as each other. I did not expect a primary detective who has to battle his own department in order to solve a crime. I did not expect a simple story drawn out to fill the pages of a book. Yet that’s what I got.
It is the late 1950’s and a noted theatre critic A. S. Crystal has come to the seaside resort of Brighton. Sitting in a dark theater he is about to tell Constable Twitten what he knows about an unsolved case from 1945 when there is “a shot in the dark” and Crystal is dead. Now Twitten has two mysteries … that from ’45 and who killed Crystal?
The narrative here is very strange. Truss is not only the author, but she seems to be the story-teller here – almost playing a defined role in the narrative of the book, pausing to tell the reader a thing or two, like an aside one might find in a Shakespeare play. It works in the theatre, but here…? In a 1950’s mystery? Not so much.
In her introduction, Truss mentions that this book, in addition to writing a police comedy serial for the BBC, she was hoping to gain membership in the Detection Club of London. In fact, that’s really the whole purpose of this book … to transform her BBC series and gain admittance to a club she reveres. Ah, such lofty goals. I should have known not to expect great care when she writes “A Shot in the Dark is set in 1957 … Most of us weren’t there, so I felt pretty free to make it up.”
Humor and mystery can work – there are any number of authors who do it well. But this one lacks heart.
Looking for a good book? Lynne Truss’ A Shot in the Dark misses.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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A Shot in the Dark
author: Lynne Truss
series: Constable Twitten #1
hardcover, 304 pages