Published by Pushkin Vertigo
Publication date –
Source – review copy
MIST, MOUNTAINS, MURDER.
Ageing millionaire Bhaskar Fernandez has invited his relatives to the remote, and possibly haunted, Greybrooke Manor, high up in the misty Nilgiris.
He knows his guests expect to gain from his death, so he writes two conflicting wills. Which one of them comes into force will depend on how he dies.
Fernandez also invites Harith Athreya, a seasoned investigator, to watch what unfolds.
When a landslide leaves the estate temporarily isolated, and a body is discovered, Athreya finds that death is not the only thing that the mist conceals. . .
Bhaskar Fernandez has made two wills. One will come into effect if he dies of natural causes. The other if he dies any other way, including if he’s murdered. When investigator Harith Athreya hears about this, and that he has been invited to Fernandez’s home, Greybrooke Manor, he is intrigued enough to accept the invitation. Once there, along with Bhaskar’s relatives, Athreya finds himself trapped at the remote manor when a landslide closes off the only road. Then a body is found and Athreya finds himself searching for a killer.
R V Raman’s introduction to Harith Athreya is off to a great start with A Will to Kill. Athreya is a curious character. He has his own ways of finding out information, up front with the rest of the characters that he will ask uncomfortable questions. Those characters are all easy to suspect in one way or another. There are the easy to dislike ones such as Ritchie, the spoilt nephew of Bhaskar, or Murthy, the rather seedy husband of Bhaskar’s niece Michelle. Most of the relatives have their own calls on Bhaskar’s purse strings so would benefit from his death. He has his loyal son, who seems to have no need to bring about his father’s early demise and his faithful right hand man, similarly devoted.
There is a closed room, country house mystery feel to the novel, in part of course due to the setting and also due to the limited cast of suspects. The clues are both imparted in the narrative and held back so that only Athreya is aware of where his investigation is taking him. Whilst I did figure out who had committed the murder it was fun to follow the clues and see how the dénouement played out. There are various strands of the story that the reader has to follow, with the hint of puzzles to be solved. It is clear that the author enjoyed writing the novel.
This was a fun, entertaining murder mystery and a great introduction to Harith Athreya. I look forward to reading more from R V Raman in the future.