Bibliophile reviews Seminar for Murder by B.M. Gill

Series detective: Detective Chief Inspector Tom Maybridge
No. in series: 2
Year of publication: 1985
Type of mystery: Murder
Type of investigator: Police
Setting & time: London, England; 1980s

D.C. Maybridge is asked to hold a lecture on ballistics at a seminar for mystery writers. When the man in charge of the seminar is found dead, his body mutilated after death, with a taunting note to Maybridge pinned to the headboard above his body, there are a number of possible suspects, and Maybridge and company have to unravel a tangled web of alibis and find the truth.

From here onwards there may be spoilers, hopefully not serious ones, but you never know.


I did warn you…

Not giving the readers a chance to test themselves against the detective is one of the few infractions agains the principle rules of mystery writing that I can not abide by in a straight (i.e. not supernatural or sci-fi) mystery. A deus ex machina solution is another. Some authors have got away with breaking these rules by being entertaining enough or bold enough to be forgiven, but Gill fails on both accounts. The story is only mildly interesting, the plot starts to fall apart somewhere around the discovery of the second body, and the characters are bland and forgettable. Maybridge, for example, is a stock character with few if any characteristics to distinguish him from a hundred other fictional detectives cast from the same mold. The story starts well enough, with a group of writers and a police officer gathered at a seminar on mystery writing, but Gill fails to make the most of it. Then there is the breaking of a third principal rule, one which I think I will not mention, as it would give away too much. Suffice to say that if you like mysteries that pit you, the reader, against murderer and detective in a game of wits, you will probably not enjoy this book, as both detective and reader are in the dark for about the same length of time.

Rating: A bland and uninteresting mystery that breaks too many author to reader courtesy rules. 2- stars.


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