How To Solve Your Own Murder: Kristen Perrin’s vivid puzzler

How to Solve Your Own Murder by Kristen Perrin is a fresh, clever and contemporary treat for mystery lovers. Read my spoiler-free book summary and review.

Publication: Quercus Books, March 2024

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Historical, Drama, Romance

How to Solve Your Own Murder Synopsis

Living in the dark shadow of a fortune told in 1965 when she was just seventeen, Frances Adams spent her life meticulously investigating and cataloging the lives of those in her quaint country village Castle Knoll. She did this in the hope of evading her prophesised demise. But did her quest for self-preservation, in the end, hasten it?

Annie has never met her great-aunt, but when she is summoned to her sprawling country estate for the reading of a new will, she finds her dead and she thrust into a peculiar inheritance puzzle. To inherit Frances’ fortune, and save others lives from being dramatically altered, she must be the first to solve the mystery of her murder. And the clock is ticking.

Amidst a backdrop of extended familial suspicion and hidden motives, Annie delves into Frances’ world, uncovering truths long buried. But can she bring the murderer to justice before she becomes their next victim?

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My Review

How To Solve Your Own Murder is a distinct cut-above your average entertaining murder mystery. And yes, I can confirm the publisher’s parallel…. this book really does have a wonderful ‘Only Murders in the Building‘ vibe.

Kristen Perrin has taken one of my favourite literary constructs, parallel present day and historical first-person narratives, the latter epistolary, and executed it superbly.

The character development feels deeply authentic, with both narrators, instantly engaging. I found both women’s unique spark and persistence highly appealing. Annie in the present engages in some fantastically funny banter and simmering tension (romantic and otherwise) with the entertainingly varied ensemble cast that’s brimming with depth and heart.

In addition to the myriad clever twists, turns and reveals woven into How To Solve Your Own Murder, Kristen Perrin’s almost literary writing style is something I enjoyed immensely.

Emily and Rose each take one of Frances’ arms again and continue to browse the fair, but things are quieter now, as if the day has been stuffed with cotton wool. The sun is still blazing, and ale still flows from kegs in pop-up tents. The air is sticky with burnt toffee and the faint smell of smoke, but Frances’ footfalls have become heavy and purposeful.

Each setting and scene depicted is vivid and the sense of time, place and mood is always strong.

Mum’s house sits miserably at the end of a posh row of terraces like Halloween attending a garden party.

How To Solve Your Own Murder is quirky without being kitsch, and evocative without feeling heavy. I recommend it unreservedly.

Plus, there’s a clear story path for us to revisit the characters in the future, and the fact that the publisher has already named this Book 1 of the The Castle Knoll Files series indicates that is likely to happen. Sign me up for Book 2!

How to Solve Your Own Murder, US

What other readers thought of How to Solve Your Own Murder

  • Sarah Penner, author of The London Seance Society called it fresh and unconventional.
  • Publishers Weekly highlighted its quick pace and many red herrings and how beautifully Annie’s growth from timid wannabe writer to confident sleuth is rendered.
  • Beth O’Leary, author of The Flatshare, said this smart, original murder mystery sucked her in from the very first pages and recommended it for fans of Richard Osman.

About the Author, Kristin Perrin

  • American-born bookseller now living is Surrey, UK.
  • Still loves poking around vintage bookstores and collecting plants.
  • How To Solve Your Own Murder is her debut adult novel.

* My receiving a pre-release copy of How to Solve Your Own Murder via Netgalley for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions.