Title: An English Murder (published originally in the UK as Honey-Dew)
Author: Louise Doughty
Publisher: Dell Publishing [originally 1998, this edition 2001]
Length: 228 pages
Setting: England, present-day
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My rating: 2/5
One-liner: An odd little book with the hint of a good idea but lacking anything particularly engaging
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A middle-aged couple is found murdered in their home in their tiny English village and their teenage daughter Gemma is missing. Alison Akenside is a reporter for the local paper who lives in the village and is one of the first on the scene.
According to Doughty’s website this book is a satire of the traditional English mystery but if so it’s using a different definition of the word satire than I’m used to. I certainly missed any comedic element Essentially the book uses a series of vignettes to take us backwards from the murder through the lives of several women involved including Alison, Gemma and both of their mothers. These vignettes are connected loosely by a brief narrative of events following the murder. For me this interesting technique would have worked better if I had been more engaged by the characters but they were a collection of terribly self-absorbed women who I had little curiosity about. A book can survive a complete lack of suspense if there is something else to interest the imagination but knowing who the culprit was from the outset didn’t help maintain my level of engagement with An English Murder.