Saturday, May 21, 2011

Nine Man's Murder, by Eric Keith

Nine Man's Murder
By Eric Keith

If imitation is truly the sincerest form of flattery then I can imagine Agatha Christie spinning with delight in her grave over Eric Keith's Nine Man's Murder. If you're going to pick a mystery novel to imitate then you might as well aim high. Which Keith does, taking as his template Christie's And Then There Were None, perhaps one of the best-known mystery books of them all.

The plot of both books, for those who might not have had the pleasure, concerns a group of people called to some remote location, where they become cut off by circumstances and are bumped off one by one by someone who has a bone to pick with each of them. Which is a gimmick that was later adopted by Friday the 13th and a host of other teen slasher movies, but Christie and her imitator, Keith, do it up with a great deal more style.

Having said this much, I don’t see any need to go any deeper into the specifics of Keith's book, other than to say that it's brief and quite intricately constructed and a suitable paean to his great predecessor. I did actually sort things out well in advance of the climax. I'm not sure if that's because things were easy to sort out or I'm getting better at this kind of thing.

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