I’ve already reviewed the first two Death in Paradise books based on the characters from the BBC TV series and by the show’s creator Robert Thorogood. This third book, Death Knocks Twice, was published last year and I’ve been meaning to read it but not quite got round to it until recently.
If you haven’t heard of the TV series this is based on it’s a similar style to Agatha Christie stories in that there’s a murder that seems impossible, often a locked room is involved, and a group of detectives in Saint Marie police station, a fictional Caribbean island, have to work out how it happened. The lead is a British detective in Richard Poole who has some unusual ways to solve the case. This time it’s a murder that looks like a suicide with no obvious motive. As the story unfolds pretty much every member of the family that lives in the estate where the murder happened becomes the main suspect so it keeps you guessing to the end.
I really like the covers of these, the style is sort of basic and cartoony in some ways and the bright colours stand out and go with the Caribbean setting. After the first book they’ve moved away from linking it to the TV series with photos of the cast but it does go quite well with the themes and colours on the TV series’ title sequence too.
The cast of the TV series has changed over the years but this book is based on the original group of four from the first two series. They do fall into some easily recognised character groups but the clichés do work in this case. There’s the officer who’s been there, knows everyone on the island and can find anything out in Dwayne Myers, the young officer who wants to help and will do what he’s told with Fidel and the sergeant who’s pretty much the level headed one that balances out Richard Poole with Cammile Borday. It’s the typical story of a group of people working together and filling the gaps and skills where the others lack. There’s enough comedy moments in there to make it light hearted and you do get some storyline around the characters and development rather than it being strictly crime solving, but this doesn’t overshadow the storyline or come across as too much.
It doesn’t have anything too graphic in it so I’d say it’s fine for teenagers on, bearing in mind that the TV series airs at 9pm originally (though reruns are on earlier). There are a couple of themes in this one that may make it more for older teens, hints of incest bring the main one that may be worth knowing about in advance, but nothing in too much detail and, again it’s fairly light hearted for a crime novel.
As far as the story goes it starts very quickly, within the first few pages the action starts and the murder happens within the first chapter so there’s no slow build up. The pace doesn’t really slow down throughout the book that much. Any lulls within the timeline are sort of skipped in a way that works, there are mentions of spending days on a task or waiting for results without it becoming full or slowing the story too much. I really like the style of Robert Thorogiid’s writing as it does seem to flow naturally, I found myself wanting to read one more chapter to see what was happening and not wanting to put it down. It doesn’t get bogged down with technical details but does have e ought police work in there to seen realistic in a small station without many resources. It also has a second crime running alongside the murder that seems irrelevant but everything pulls together towards the end.
This is one of those stories where you can’t see how it’s going to work but it does all come together in a satisfying ending that actually makes sense. You finish it and get the feeling that it could have happened that way, rather than some books that you still end up confused after finishing it all. I’d say it’s the same with all of the Death in Paradise books and I think, if they become a long running series of books, they could be reread like Agatha Christies and you’d pick up extra hints earlier in the story.
It definitely fits well within the Death in Paradise TV show, somewhere in the first series I’d say, and the characters and situations are true to that. It’s one of those things where when you’ve seen a show with the characters it’s hard to see them as anything else and if there’s anything that doesn’t fit with the way the actors portray them it stands out. I think the fact it’s written by the show’s creator helps a lot with that.
If you like the sound of this book the other two Death in Paradise books are A Meditation on Murder and The Killing of Polly Carter, which both have a similar feel to them and do fit well with the series. There’s no real need to read them in order as there’s no big introduction book and they all cover the characters and location as the story goes on so you don’t need to know the characters before reading them.
If you’re a fan of Agatha Christie style murder mysteries but in a modern day setting up think these are worth checking out, whether it’s the book it TV series. It’s not a long read, I think around eight hours covered it and I wasn’t trying to rush it, but a good one for the summer to relax and enjoy. It’s not too serious but does have a good story so if you’re a fan of more gritty crime books it may not be for you.