So, I’ve read this book twice, the first time in October of 2018, and I read so quickly—skimmed really—that when I finished the book, incredulous, I could only say, “What?” before giving up, defeated. “That,” I said, “is the end of my career as a detective.”
Sometimes it’s good not to know what happened, right? I enjoy when books let me linger over them long after I’ve finished reading.
Still, since the story had been such a joy-ride, I didn’t mind starting over, so in December 2019, I read it again. I even reread the last few chapters several times.
I still didn’t get it.
My Dubai-based book club chose the book for May 2020, and instead of rereading it again, I decided to let these smart people solve the mystery for me. Our discussion about the book on 19 May 2020 relieved me of my fear: I’m not the only one who isn’t sure what exactly happens. The story raises far more questions than it answers.
What’s amazing is that despite confusing me twice, I can’t wait to buy it. I’m saving it to be a post-lockdown treat, when I can finally reenter a bookshop and choose my own copy.
Authors, read this book if you want to experience a murder mystery with every last detail planned out, a story so extreme that it’s almost unfathomable. Are you a planner or a pantser?
Stuart Turton has admitted to being a planner. Excel spreadsheets, maps, pins in the wall wound with thread leading back to photographs…he’s also admitted that his “idea was the easy part, keeping track of all the moving parts was the difficulty.”
This book is a great example why you should release yourself from feeling guilty about planning every detail, keeping multiple spreadsheets, or having one giant, taped-together page describing the miniscule details of your book. You are not alone.
Readers, read this book if you want to disappear into a murder mystery dinner party, without all the trouble of dressing up, acting, or actually leaving your house. (Great lockdown activity!) You may leave the party without understanding who the murderer was, but you’ll have a great time anyway.
What I want to tell people about this book is if you like the game Clue(Cluedo), you want to read this book. I wrote to Turton on Twitter and asked if he’d consider making it a board game. The word’s still out on that, and I’m starting to wonder if I couldn’t just design it myself and pitch it once I’ve got something in hand. Clue needs a major update, and this could be it. Any game makers out there? Let’s talk.
Final word, it’s a fun book but read it, enjoy it, and don’t bother taking notes, if that’s what you’re thinking. It’s far better just to reread it!
I read a lot and I hope to help authors with the craft of writing. I share good examples of difficult aspects of writing: point of view, narration, world building and more.
Occasionally I give editing tips and share insights from the world of publishing.
Posts on editing
Posts on publishing
Posts on books