Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Natural Victim by Peter Raynard

Peter Raynard the author of this book, approached me to write a review of his debut novel. I would like to thank Peter for sending over a copy of this modern day murder mystery and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors and with the success of this book.

Plot Summary:

Dieter Fox, a skinny university student who along with his unnamed friend (who I'm assuming is the author) live together as the modern Holmes and Watson. Dieter is a great fan of detective novels and his home is a library filled with them. Soon there is murder in the University and Dieter gets a chance to play the detective. A friend of  Dieter's, is accused and arrested by the Police, he engages Dieter and pleads with him to do his own investigation and find out who is the real killer and get him off the hook.

Dieter has his task cut out, he now has to find the real killer among half dozen suspects, get his friend out of jail and stop the murderer before the killer can play out his/her machinations.


Peter's debut novel is more of a novella rather than a novel, it's longitude can be compared with the Sherlock Holmes novels. Peter claims to have written a no frill story in the same manner as Dame Christie and Erle Stanley Gardner. To a certain degree that claim is corroborated, the author only focuses on the murder and mystery, and we see the detective hopping off from questioning one suspect to another.  Character building is not paid attention to, and the murder remains the nucleus of the book. The mystery is a nice one and it takes some cogitation on part of the reader to deduce the murderer. The Author Plays fair and gives the reader all clues and hides nothing, I did not manage to figure out the killer though,  because the author kept him out of my radar by sending red herrings, nice work there.

But the book ends up having a one dimensional story and fails to really engage the reader, the plot is not very well contrived. Also the clues and evidence that Dieter and his partner are able to uncover, they seem to uncover them so easily that you can only end up concluding that the Police investigation was a very shoddy one, which makes it a bit unbelievable that a couple of amateurs were able to uncover so much, in contrast the professional Police detectives were able to do nothing.

The book title is a bit confusing why is it called "The Natural Victim"? Is it because the victim was universally hated and almost all the characters in the book except the detectives themselves wanted him dead.

Also, I hate the cover, don't want to see dead man's feet on a book's cover.

For a debut novel this was a good effort, I would want to see Peter write a locked room murder mystery in his next endeavor, I think also in the upcoming novels if the author decides to stick with this detective we might see issues of his apparent alcoholism being addressed. For Rs 170, this is quite a bargain and will give you 3-4 hours of a nice time pass novel.

Where Can you buy it? Its available in an e book format on Amazon.


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