Lauren Molyneux reviews a murder mystery written by a local Lancashire author
Murder Mapped Out
Book One of The Wisstingham Mysteries series takes us to the estate of Wisstingham Hall. Owned by Commander Selwyn Fitzgerald, the hall and its estate provide the stage upon which a plot filled with twists, turns, betrayal, and even murder, is played out.
Committed to restoring the hall and his family name to all its former glory, Selwyn has come to dedicate much of his life to the search of his family treasure, apparently buried somewhere in Wisstingham’s grounds. Enlisting the help of a local historian, he believes he’s making great progress when he stumbles upon a chest filled with old documents relating to the hall and its land. But when a body is found on his estate, having fallen from the folly, he begins to doubt the character of those who surround him, and their possible motives and interests in his family and land.
Up against the world following the tragic loss of his closest family members, Selwyn finds himself woven into a plot filled with criminal activity and betrayal, ultimately raising questions about trust, and how far people can be driven by the promise of fortune.
As the first book in the series, Murder Mapped Out combines a number of complicated plotlines. We follow a lucrative criminal antiques operation running from one of the hall’s outbuildings, battles between the estate and the council for permissions relating to land, and a historical feud between two landowners that is carried forth into the 21st century, only serving to add to Selwyn’s struggles. The plot is made all the more complicated by the number of characters we’re introduced to, and the ways in which they’re introduced – usually with a new name at the beginning of every chapter. While this style of presentation creates a sense of mystery, it can lead to much flicking back and forth between pages to try and determine if we’ve come across this person before.
With many narrative strands running in tandem, and so many characters involved in executing the plot, readers are definitely kept on their toes! Although the writer succeeds in building a mystery, at times it is difficult to determine the value of each narrative thread within the contexts of the wider story framework.
Overall, the novel presents an interesting premise and definitely secures itself a seat within the genre of mystery.
With Murder Mapped Out, Hanson has sought to build an intricate puzzle that readers are supposed to figure out and put together piece by piece.
I believe the drip-feed of information provided and the complications afforded by multiple plotlines are what solidifies the series within its genre. However, instead of being driven by intrigue, the experience of trying to pull all these pieces together can become frustrating.
All the same, Murder Mapped Out offers up an interesting premise, and I look forward to seeing where the plot will take us in the second part of the series.