Monday, September 12, 2022

Post After Post-Mortem - E.C.R. Lorac

I have so many books to write about at the moment and post review at work, my stint as host for #ReadingHeyer done, and almost being finished with wedding thank you letters I think I might actually have time to get stuck into some reviewing here. If only it would cool down a bit!

I read Post After Post-Mortem a while ago but hadn't found the opportunity to write about it until now. In some ways that's been a blessing, I thought the book was okay whilst I was reading it but with time to reflect there's more to it than I originally thought. 

The Surrays and their five children are a prolific and successful family of writers and professionals, the youngest daughter has just got a 1st class honours degree from Oxford, and is worried that the family doesn't need a 7th author - though she possibly fancies writing a thriller. Her older sister, Ruth, is a respected author and reviewer whose championship can make a career and who seems to have the literary world at her feet.

It's Ruth who is found dead, apparently due to suicide, an event that shocks her family to the core - and then a letter arrives from Ruth to her brother Richard. It's been delayed by having a miss-written address and both the time it was sent and the contents suddenly raise questions over the suicide verdict. 

The family and Ruth's friends are wary of police intervention, in an effort to protect her name they've not been entirely honest, but their white lies and omissions have muddied the waters, and they're even more hostile to the idea of murder than they were of suicide. Everybody suddenly appears as a suspect, and there's the possibility the murderer isn't done yet.

I didn't warm to some bits about a woman's place and cod psychology early in the book, but the examination of a family that seems outrageously successful on the surface, but still has their problems is interesting.  Early on Mrs Surray worries that they have tempted fate, and so it seems to be. In the end the motive for murder is almost an inconsequential one, except to the murderer of course, which seems more believable somehow than plots about killing a spouse for the love of someone else or murdering for a large inheritance. 

It's an interesting and thoughtful mystery that seems timely against the growing cost of living crisis - Mrs Surray's worry that the good things of the world have come too easily to them and there will be a price to pay seems like it might be prescient as most of us find we're struggling a little bit more, and the politics of envy is rife on social media.

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