Title: The Killing of Polly Carter
Author: Robert Thorogood
Publication Date: 3 December 2015
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thorogood’s Death in Paradise series tell the tale of British Detective Inspector Richard Poole following his move to the fictional Caribbean island of Saint-Marie. The Killing of Polly Carter is the second book in the series and follows DI Richard Poole as he investigates the apparent suicide of a supermodel, Polly Carter. He quickly suspects foul play and so commences the investigations into her death.
I love a good whodunit and The Killing of Polly Carterdemonstrates the pattern typical of classic murder mysteries: starting with a murder, adding a limited pool of suspects, some police deduction and then a gathering of those suspects in order to unveil the murderer. I can appreciate this particular formula as I believe it puts demands on the author to create a really good plot and characterisation, otherwise the book quickly falls flat. As the reader, I like to be able to get stuck into the story – identifying potential motives, creating my own narrative and detecting any ‘red herrings’ as the story progresses in order to be able to reach my conclusions and guess ‘whodunit’. In my opinion, Thorogood achieved these aims and allowed me to join in with the detective work!
The characters are a mixed cast, led by the bumbling but brilliant detective Poole and his unique team of investigators. The main characters are quite heavily stereotyped, with DI Poole as an uptight and awkward Englishman abroad, whilst his colleagues in the police department are typically laid-back Caribbean folk.
The suspects, made up of Polly’s wheelchair-bound sister Claire, her staff and a few other house guests, all of whom appear to be hiding something from the astute DI Poole. The characters are given sound backgrounds and identifiable motives to murder Polly Carter. Any of the characters could ultimately have been found to be the killer and, as such, it is interesting to follow along with the story and decide who you think had the opportunity to carry out the crime.
This is a bit of a chicken-egg situation for me. I am unsure which came first, the books or the TV show. In any event, the books are written in such a fashion as to make them easily adaptable for the screen. I found that whilst there are differences to the TV show, I still got the same sense of character, albeit having watched those characters on the screen first meant that my expectations may have translated into how I chose to interpret them on the page. I actually found that I got more of a feeling for the main characters from the TV series, which is somewhat unusual as I think that I normally get more of a sense of a character from the book rather than from the corresponding TV show, however on this occasion it felt the opposite but that may be because I feel as though I know those characters that I have been watching for the past few years. It may also be because the book focused more on the murder than on the individual characters. This is not a criticism, merely an observation.
I thought the plot was well-crafted , well-paced and entertaining. All of the houseguests/suspects have a motive to kill Polly and it is up to DI Poole and his team to whittle those suspects down in order to find out what really happened. It was interesting to read about the police investigation and to experience DI Poole’s unique thought process. DI Poole is certainly one of those coppers who does not rest until he’s caught his man/woman!