The second in the Hampstead Murders series, Miss Christie Regrets offers an inventive take on the classic whodunnit. The plotting is deft and subtle, and there are many classic tropes from some of the great crime fiction writers, including Christie herself, who plays an intriguing part in this fascinating mystery.
Set in the present day, the novel has strong links to traditional Golden Age crime fiction, with even the names of the detectives, which include Detective Inspector Metcalfe, Detective Chief Inspector Tom Allen and Detective Sergeant Willis sound vaguely Poirot-esq.
The novel centres around the murder of Peter Howse, Researcher and Manager of the Burgh House Museum and Gallery, who is beaten to death at his workplace. The story follows the basic pattern until the detectives, aided by a profiler with a personal link to the Sergeant, learn of a surprising link to a historical murder from many years previously.
Author Guy Fraser-Sampson, famed for his Mapp & Lucia novels, has a good eye for detail and strong characterisation skills, making even the most insignificant characters much more vivid than mere plot points and allowing the seamless integration of various traditional genre tropes to go almost unnoticed.
It has been remarked that the book also bears a resemblance to a John Le Carré thriller; whilst I wouldn’t go that far, the integration of the ever ominous Special Branch is slick and not as clumsy as it is in other novels.
Overall this is another novel that certainly is not emulating Christie as you might suspect, but it does offer a fascinating take on the genre, and although it has been compared to the work of just about everyone else by other reviewers I would have to say that you are best off enjoying this book for what it is; a very solid crime novel with a striking twist.