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When an editor receives the final installment in famous author Alan Conway’s Atticus Pünd mystery series, she is immediately sucked into the story. A housekeeper has died falling down the stairs–a seeming accident. But when the wealthy estate owner is decapitated at the foot of the same staircase days later, it must be connected. Detective Atticus Pünd hadn’t intended to take any more cases since he learned he is dying. But the facts of the case are too strange to pass up. It seems everyone in the village had a motive for one or both murders, and yet none of the motives seem to explain all of the events. As the novel draws to a close and Pünd is about to reveal the murderer, the editor realizes that there is a chapter missing. She puts in a call to her boss, asking him to contact the author, and instead receives startling news: the author is dead–an apparent suicide. It turns out that he, like his character Pünd, was dying of cancer. But something doesn’t sit right about the author’s death, and as the editor searches for the final chapter of his manuscript, she begins to suspect that he may have been murdered, as well.
This intriguing double mystery reads a bit like an Agatha Christie. It is riddled with quirky suspects and red herrings–both in the framing story and the mystery “novel” within. I found the Pünd plotline more engaging at first, as it took me a little while to get into the framing mystery once the Pünd story abruptly ended. But it was a neat concept and definitely kept me reading to the end. I recommend it to fans of classic whodunit mysteries.