Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Beauty of Murder by A. K. Benedict

I first heard of A. K. Benedict when she appeared on Joanna Penn’s podcast. Her books sounded interesting so I decided to borrow this and give it a go. Basically, it was an interesting but confusing read which was also weakened by the insta-love.

The protagonist of The Beauty of Murder is Stephen Killigan, a new professor at a fictionalised version of Cambridge. One day, he stumbles onto the body of a missing beauty queen, but the body disappears without a trace before the police arrive. And because most people try to find a reason for why a body would appear, Stephen investigates and very quickly realises that this is no ordinary murder and the one responsible is a very dangerous killer.

For the most part, I found this book to be interesting and quite original. [POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT] The book manages to combine murder and time travel in a very atmospheric setting and has a seriously creepy villain. But, it’s let down by two aspects: The first is the instalove, which you probably know is my pet peeve. Stephen quickly falls in love with a girl called Lana, and apart from being a bit of a jerk because he knew his (only) friend liked her, the timeline was simply too rushed. I mean, Stephen meets her just before he finds the body and things move very fast after that. I don’t feel that there’s enough time for them to fall in love because he’s alone for most major events throughout the first half of the book, plus I didn’t see much chemistry either. It was described, definitely, but I wasn’t convinced.

The second thing is that the book is pretty hard to understand. Time travel is a fairly complicated subject on its own, and I think the book does a good job incorporating that into the novel, but I was left confused quite a few times. Some of it may be because I’m just not smart enough to process it because there are 2 time periods and 3 point of view characters (although oddly enough, I don't have this problem with Sarah Rayne's books and she uses more time periods and POV characters), but the book does feel like it’s trying to be clever and I think that added to the confusion. I did try to reread certain chapters several times, but I never understood how they led to the following chapters.

Despite my fairly long complaints about the book, It is, on the whole, a decent read. The pacing is quick, the tension rises steadily, and the setting is sufficiently dark and befitting of the crime. If you like dark crime and England, you might want to check this out.


  1. My interest perked up at the mention of time travel. I do enjoy mysteries, especially ones set in England, although insta-love can be hard to take sometimes, even for me. I love the cover. I'm sorry this wasn't better for you. I may have to check it out anyway, but I will keep my expectations down.

    1. I think a lot of people loved it so I may be an exception! The time-travel part was definitely cool (the concept in general was great, I'm just not an insta-love person)


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