For David Knight a relaxing glass of wine on a summer evening is the best start to seven days of uninterrupted effort to finish his latest, overdue, mystery novel. He is meant to be devoting the week to a family holiday in Norfolk with his wife and sons and his last minute decision to stay in London has not been welcomed. All might have been well if he hadn’t let the young woman into his house. But there is something about her he finds familiar. Then she shows him a photograph of five undergraduates and says that one of them is her father. David finds his own face looking back at him and a chill in the summer air. Sorting the matter out should have been relatively simple. But, because of an accident, David is unable to remember anything of the time, apart from a mysterious woman who haunts his dreams. So starts a series of events that even an experienced crime writer like David would have difficulty in imagining. As he is dragged back into the past, murder, in particular, seems determined to make an appearance. David needs all his wits about him, and any help he can get, to avoid becoming a victim of events he can’t recall…
“The most teasingly pleasurable crime mystery novel I’ve come across this year is The Appearance of Murder. The plot is cunningly set up around a novelist writing a crime mystery novel which then dissolves into the real thing. Or perhaps not. The play of appearance and reality is maintained to a satisfying denouement.”
The Times, Books of the Year, 5 December 2015
HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW
When a mysterious woman knocks on David Knight’s door it has life and death implications for a select group of people all featured in a photograph which is shown to him. Her name was Perdita and she told him that one of the five undergraduates from the prestigious Cambridge University, including him, is her father. To be honest I felt that this was like the original Brat Pack. A group of men that thought themselves far above everyone and everything, quite untouchable. To stir things up even more David had lost a memory slot of about 6 months after being hit on the head, so he couldn’t remember this period of time. It was time to get thinking like one of the detectives in his unfinished book, Murder is Equal and try and make sense of the dreams he kept having about a mysterious woman. Game on.
I really fell into stride with this novel, I loved the mystery and intrigue that surrounded the past and the confusion that someone was creating in present day to throw David off scent. I felt that the memory loss of David was quite an ace card in the investigation were you always felt the frustration bubbling within him at not knowing what had happened even to himself. This isn’t a police investigation, this is a middle class author trying to play super sleuth as much to clear his own name as to find out the truth. The deeper it goes though the more complicated it becomes as someone neither wants the past digging up or the present day mystery solved but how far is someone prepared to go?
John Nightingale has produced an intricate mystery that has been a pleasure to unwind with the reluctant investigator. I so enjoyed the inventions too they were brilliant.
I wish to thank John Nightingale for this book which I have chosen to review.
HERE IS A LITTLE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Nightingale is the author of The Sky Blue Parcel, the first in the Jane Charles series and The Appearance of Murder – listed as a book of the year for 2015 in The Times and as one of 10 Best Books of 2015 on AskMen UK.
Before becoming a full-time novelist, he worked as a civil servant in a number of different roles. He was, among other things, in charge of national alcohol misuse policy (“previous experience not required and may even be a disadvantage”); and an expert on pensions and pensions education, playing a leading role in sorting out the Maxwell pension scandal.
He studied English at Cambridge and lives and writes in London and Suffolk. In 1990 he married Caroline Slocock, who also worked as a civil servant for many years, including as the first woman Private Secretary in No 10 and as a senior civil servant at the Treasury. They have two daughters.
His civil service career provided the background to The Sky Blue Parcel, where he worked closely with Ministers, for example on the Department of Work and Pensions’ anti-fraud strategy. Jane’s branch in Her Majesty’s Treasury dealing with large scale organized financial crime is an invention but perhaps overdue.
Another source of inspiration for his writing came through no talent of his own but through marriage. He got, for a time, to be the additional man at that banquet at No 10 or that reception at Chequers, where he suddenly found himself in conversation with Dame Vera Lynn, Jimmy Greaves and Clive Lloyd. There was also the opportunity and time to observe events and people which is precious for any novelist, thriller writer or otherwise. On another occasion he sat next to the very charming wife of the Chief Secretary to the Treasury who told him that she had been in a bookshop earlier in the day and picked up a thriller which had the opening line “The wife of the Chief Secretary to the Treasury…”
A sense of the surreal and the difficulty of determining where precisely reality lies is a key element in John’s thriller The Appearance of Murder featuring David Knight.