Friday, March 25, 2022

Murder at the National Gallery (Museum Mysteries #7)



Murder at the National Gallery is the 7th Museum Mystery by Jim Eldridge. Released 20th Jan 2022 by Alison & Busby, it's 311 pages (ebook version) and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats (paperback due out in summer 2022). It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. 

This is a competently plotted slightly gritty murder mystery. The characters are well developed and have a solid background and chemistry together. The pacing was variable, at points it dragged a bit for me, but overall it moved along at a good pace. It's 90% dialogue driven and the dialogue tends to be overly simplistic and not very nuanced. I admit the dialogue threw me. The book is set in the 19th century and is often quite jarring because the vernacular is completely modern (it reads very much like a modern mystery and the historical setting is only made clear by contextual clues such as when the author throws Bram Stoker, Conan Doyle, and Van Gogh in as contemporary). My other small quibble is that it seemed the author included almost every famous contemporary person, actor, current event, landmark, and news headline in the narrative. It interfered with my suspension of disbelief in several places.

All in all it's a readable and mostly engaging mystery with lots of skullduggery and shenanigans, a soupcon of danger, and a reasonable denouement and resolution. Sensitive readers will want to be aware that there are graphic descriptions of Jack-the-Ripper-esque murders including disembowelment, as well as fairly graphic on-page sexual content and descriptions. The two main protagonists are cohabiting in a stable long-term relationship and apparently suffering no social censure (another anachronism, although the author does partly address the paradox in the text).

Three and a half stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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