Selchester Castle in 1953 sits quiet and near-empty, its corridors echoing with glories of the past. Or so it seems to intelligence officer Hugo Hawksworth, wounded on a secret mission and now reluctantly assuming an altogether less perilous role at Selchester.
The Castle’s faded grandeur hides a web of secrets and scandals—the Earl has been missing for seven years, lost without a trace since the night he left his guests and walked out into a blizzard. When a skeleton is uncovered beneath the flagstones of the Old Chapel, the police produce a suspect and declare the case closed. Hugo is not convinced. With the help of the spirited Freya Wryton, the Earl’s niece, he is drawn back into active service, and the ancient town of Selchester is dragged into the intrigues and conspiracies of the Cold War era.
With a touch of Downton Abbey, a whisper of Agatha Christie and a nod to le Carré, A Man of Some Repute is the first book in this delightfully classic and witty murder mystery series. (Amazon.com)
I picked up this quick read on the cheap from Amazon’s Kindle First. I was a bit apprehensive to read A Man Of Some Repute, as my first foray into the world of Kindle First was almost a disaster (Crow Hollow – you can read what I said here), but thankfully my luck held out on this one.
I ended up reading it as part of the the 24in48 Readathon and it was definitely a good choice as it was a fairly light read, not too long, and not too much plot to wrap my head around when I was half asleep.
I wasn’t too sure what to expect when I start reading. What I got was a decent mystery, the outcome of which wasn’t obvious until the final pages (which was great as I hate when I solve the mystery halfway through the book) and some characters who, although a little bland for my taste, did their job and moved the plot along.
I probably would have liked to have seen a bit more happen though. When the story opens there’s a good energy about it, but it doesn’t take long until things start to get a little bit slow. It picks up when the body is found, but then gets slow again. When things do happen, they are over as quickly as they began. A good example of this is the final reveal of the killer – I had actually completely forgotten who it was and I had to go back through to refresh my memory. It didn’t seem like the discovery of the killer had the level of fanfare it should have been given. It just sort of happened.
Overall, this was a decent read. Although the climax was a bit anti-climactic, there is definitely enough intrigue and enough suspects to keep the reader guessing to the end, which is kind of important in a mystery novel. It was sort of like reading a game of ‘Cluedo’. I understand that there might be a couple of books after this to make a series and while I didn’t love A Man of Some Repute, I enjoyed it enough to be encouraged to read another book in the series.
However, readers of le Carré be warned: Despite the blurb asserting this book to be in some way “a nod to le Carré”, it isn’t at all. The only thing that could be possibly seen as a nod, is the cover art, which is similar to the artwork on the Penguin Modern Classics editions of the le Carré novels (like this one here), and the fact that one of the main characters is an intelligence officer in the Cold War era.
WHO SHOULD READ IT – As I’ve not read any Agatha Christie or watch ‘Downton Abbey’, I don’t know if it’s like those things. But I have read a couple of the ‘Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries’ by Kerry Greenwood, and it’s kind of like that. So if you like Miss Fisher you might be into this as well, it’s just a bit stuffier.
WHO YOU’LL LOVE – I really liked Hugo Hawksworth. I think he has a lot of potential as a character. If there are some more books after this one, I hope he is in them as I’d like to see him grow a bit more. Plus he’s a spy, and if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you will know that I’m pretty into spies.
FAVOURITE QUOTE – There were none that jumped out at me in this one.