BLURB: An original story from the creator and writer of the hit BBC One TV series, Death in Paradise, featuring on-screen favourite detective, DI Richard Poole.
Supermodel Polly Carter was famed for her looks and party-girl lifestyle. Now she’s dead, apparently having thrown herself from the clifftop near her home on the island of Saint-Marie. Those who knew her say Polly would never have killed herself…and when he is called in to investigate, DI Richard Poole is inclined to agree there is more to Polly’s death than meets the eye.
Already fighting a losing battle against the intense summer heat of the Caribbean, Richard now faces fresh adversaries: a stream of alibis; a host of conflicting motives; and, worst of all, a visit from his mother. A frenzy which would surely allow a murderer to slip away unnoticed…yet Richard is certain that the guilty party is still on the island.
As his team closes in on Polly’s household, Richard becomes convinced that the model’s death was an inside job. And he’s determined to prove who planned the killing of Polly Carter, and why…
I have to admit to never having seen an episode of the very popular BBC1 series Death In Paradise, of which this is the second spin-off book by the show’s creator. People tend to assume that if you read crime fiction, you also watch it on TV, but that isn’t really the case with me (although I do have a weakness for many of the European and American crime series, which allow the building up of a satisfyingly complex mystery over 8 or more episodes.) British crime TV just isn’t in the same league, although there are a few exceptions – Scott & Bailey, Vera, the first series of Broadchurch, for example.
Not having seen the show shouldn’t really spoil a reader’s enjoyment of The Killing Of Polly Carter, although it did mean I had no knowledge of the relationships between the investigation team. DI Richard Poole, the main character, leader of the team, and investigatory genius, is a bit of a curmudgeonly loner, insisting on wearing woollen suits with a tie, despite being stationed from the UK to the island of Saint-Marie in the Caribbean, as he strongly believes in keeping up appearances. The rest of the four-strong team are local, and much more laidback. Dwayne, a rather lazy member but nevertheless effective member of the team, is something of a womanizer. I didn’t really feel I got to know Camille or Fidel well at all, but that really didn’t make a difference to the case they were investigating.
Polly Carter was a famous model, and notoriously spoiled and stroppy, with poor judgement in people. She isn’t long out of rehab for heroin addiction, which she’s successfully kicked after an addiction of many years. When she falls to her death from the steps at the bottom of her garden, which lead down the cliff-face to the beach, her twin sister Claire, who’s in a wheelchair, is with her on a walk through the garden. Polly’s last words were to apparently blame Claire for everything, whatever that might mean, before jumping to her death from near the top of the stairs.
As with all unusual deaths on the island, the team are called out, and quickly DI Poole suspects he has a case of murder on his hands. Polly had a houseful of guests, as well as a housekeeper and her husband, and they all seemed to have a possible motive to want the difficult supermodel dead. Many of them have alibis which can’t be confirmed, and the investigation isn’t made any easier by the fact that some of the suspects initially lie to the police (always a bad idea!) It’s up to Poole and the others to sort the wheat from the chaff and work out who is responsible. And to complicate matters for the Chief, as he likes to be called, Jennifer, Poole’s mother, has decided to fly out for a visit. It’s soon clear that her marriage to Richard’s father has not been in a good place since he, a high-ranking policeman in the UK, retired. Despite his difficulties with dealing with human feelings, Richard realises it’s up to him to try to help mend their marriage – with a little advice from people with more experience in romantic relationships!
The investigation in the book, though, is why it’s worth reading. There’s plenty of red herrings, and pretty much everyone in Sophie’s circle falls under suspicion at one point. The press release sells this as being for “fans of Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes”, which I think is somewhat of an exaggeration of the book’s qualities, although the way Poole gathers all the suspects for the grand reveal of the murderer at the end is reminiscent of Christie.
This is a fairly gentle – and not very gory – murder mystery which, although clearly aimed at fans of the TV series, can be enjoyed by anyone who likes a less gruesome mystery than many on the market. Despite it being over 300 pages long it’s a very fast read, and DI Poole and his anxiety over heights, insects, and things not being done his way, makes an amusing and rather endearing central character. The setting is also idyllic. So if you’re one of the 9 million viewers of Death In Paradise, I suspect you’ll enjoy this book a great deal. I may even check out the TV series myself when it returns. And even if you’re not a fan, or haven’t seen it, like myself, but fancy something a bit gentler, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy trying to figure out whodunit – for the record, I failed miserably! An enjoyable read for a wet weekend.