Conan Doyle meets Agatha Christie
A Barker & Llewelyn Novel
by Will Thomas
St. Martin's Press
Mystery & Thrillers
Pub Date 25 Oct 2016
Intentional or no, Hell Bay evokes the same sense of impending terror that I experienced when I first read Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. This isn't a strict homage to the mystery classic, rather it takes the central elements (the isolated island setting where guests are trapped and an unknown murderer decimating those present) and reworks them by adding a detective ala Sherlock Holmes
Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn are enquiry agents (private detectives) in turn of the century London. Like Sherlock Holmes, Cyrus Barker has a predilection for meerschaum pipes and mysteries that challenge the intellect. (Barker is somewhat more willing to engage in the rough and tumble, and never presumes to possess Holmes's observational skills) He and his assistant Thomas Llewelyn have been hired by Lord Hargrave to protect the French ambassador during a weeklong house party at Lord Hargrave's isolated island estate. Needless to say people begin dying in creative ways for no apparent reason. In order to stay alive and protect his reputation Barker must unravel the the how's and why's in order to identify a ruthless killer.
Llewelyn, like Dr Watson narrates the story, thoughtfully providing the reader with his observations. Taken on the whole, Hell Bay is excels. Combining the essence of Christie's And Then There Were None with elements of Holmesian fiction was a brilliant idea. The end result is a unique novel that is not derivative by any means. Hell Bay's only flaw is in the length of time it takes to get into the meat of the book. Once you get to the middle, the remainder moves quickly.
Hell Bay will appeal to readers who enjoy Holmesian fiction and period mysteries, as well as fans of classic Agatha Christie.
I received a copy of Hell Bay from the publisher and netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
At the request of Her Majesty’s government, private enquiry agent Cyrus Barker agrees to take on his least favorite kind of assignment—he’s to provide security for a secret conference with the French government. The conference is to take place on the private estate of Lord Hargrave on a remote island off the coast of Cornwall. The goal of the conference is the negotiation of a new treaty with France. The cover story for the gathering is a house party—an attempt to introduce Lord Hargrave’s two unmarried sons to potential mates.
But shortly after the parties land at the island, Lord Hargrave is killed by a sniper shot, and the French ambassador’s head of security is found stabbed to death. The only means of egress from the island—a boat—has been sent away, and the means of signaling for help has been destroyed. Trapped in a manor house with no way of escape, Cyrus Barker and his assistant, Thomas Llewelyn, must uncover which among them is the killer before the next victim falls.