Early on in his murder mystery, Sir Laurence Dies, Christopher D. Abbott’s provides a conversation between his protagonist, Dutch Criminal Psychologist, Doctor Pieter Straay, and the title character, Sir Laurence Gregson. Doctor Straay, discussing his background, says, “I am content to perform my own investigations when the mood takes me, but not as a consulting detective like your Sherlock Holmes of fiction.” After sharing a match for their cigarettes (everyone smokes constantly in this book), Sir Laurence answers, “…Holmes was a great detective and an interesting man written by a very clever author, but I prefer the complexity of a Christie novel.” The conversation provides a window into the type of novel Abbott is about to unfold. This is doesn’t rely on forensics so much as the background, psychology, and motivations of each of the characters. The reader must pay close attention to each scene and conversation for clues as to what Abbott is communicating. His protagonist even highlights for us when something of importance has just occurred if we are astute enough to deduce it. For the dedicated mystery fan, the plot should provide sufficient opportunity for private sleuthing.
I was fortunate to meet Christopher Abbott in person at a town fair and exchange some ideas on writing. I delighted in his English accent, which he interjects throughout his very entertaining book. Once he lays out the story background, the manner in which he brings each of the characters center stage for examination was appealing to me. When I finished the book, I had to revisit the beginning again to discover the trail of crumbs Abbott skillfully laid out at the onset. A well-written novel should take us out of ourselves for a time and a great mystery should challenge our intellect and satisfy our desire for a logical conclusion to an obscure dilemma. Christopher D. Abbott’s novel succeeds on all counts.