Sunday 12 July 2020

The Last of the Country House Murders

Finished July 2
The Last of the Country House Murders by Emma Tennant

This book was definitely a surprise. I'd picked it up from the title, thinking it a cozy British mystery, but instead it is a weird dark dystopian fantasy novel. The story takes place at some undetermined future time. Most of the wealthy class in Britain is now housed in institutions where they have small personal spaces and spend most of the day outside on the grounds of the institution. The lower classes appear to have devolved completely and lost the ability to use language. Tourists come from other countries for general tours and for special events.
The upcoming special event here is a murder scheduled in the last country house. The house's owner is scheduled to be murdered in a few days and those that pay can get closer access to the event. A man, working for the government has been designated as the detective and he has chosen which detective (from a selection of famous literary detectives) that he will personify. He must travel to the country house, do research on the man who lives there and talk to him, determine what suspects should be invited to attend to make the event more interesting and determine who the murderer will be. But things don't go as planned, and the detective feels under pressure himself.
We get no real backstory on why society has ended up in this place, but we do see a variety of viewpoints, although mostly very superficially. Besides the detective, and the man who will be murdered, we see a few people from his past, and we see some American tourists.
The props seem to be less substantial and even those no longer living appear in some situations. There are other figures who seem to have a supporting institutional sort of role as well.
This is a very odd book, and not one that captured me.

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