Guy Fraser-Sampson is an established writer, having published not only fiction but also books on a diverse range of subjects including finance, investment, economics and cricket. His darkly disturbing economic history The Mess We’re In was nominated for the Orwell Prize. His Mapp & Lucia novels have all been optioned by BBC TV, and have won high praise from other authors including Alexander McCall Smith, Gyles Brandreth and Tom Holt. The second was featured in an exclusive interview with Mariella Forstrup on Radio 4, and Guy’s entertaining talks on the series have been heard at a number of literary events including the Sunday Times Festival in Oxford and the Daily Telegraph Festival in Dartington. With Death in Profile he begins a new series entitled The Hampstead Murders. Set in and around the iconic North London village, the first book in the series sees a team of detectives pursuing a serial sex killer while internal politics and a love triangle threaten to destabilise the enquiry. Harking back (sometimes explicitly) to the Golden Age of detective writing, Death in Profile introduces us to a group of likeable central characters whose loves, eccentricities and career ups and downs will be developed throughout the series. Very different from the contemporary model of detective novel, Guy’s innovative style and approach has been endorsed by leading crime writers such as Christopher Brookmyre and Ruth Dugdall.
Title: Death in Profile
Author: Guy Fraser-Sampson
Publisher: Urbane Publications
Publication Date: 17 March 2016
The genteel façade of London’s Hampstead is shattered by a series of terrifying murders, and the ensuing police hunt is threatened by internal politics, and a burgeoning love triangle within the investigative team. Pressurised by senior officers desperate for a result a new initiative is clearly needed, but what?
Intellectual analysis and police procedure vie with the gut instinct of ‘copper’s nose’, and help appears to offer itself from a very unlikely source – a famous fictional detective. A psychological profile of the murderer allows the police to narrow down their search, but will Scotland Yard lose patience with the team before they can crack the case?
In Death in Profile, Guy Sampson-Fraser has successfully combined a contemporary police procedural/murder mystery with an classic style of crime writing. Think Agatha Christie, but with a modern twist! The story does, in fact, make numerous references to Golden Age author Dorothy L Sayers and her Lord Peter Wimsey series.
After 18 months of investigation, a serial killer is still on the loose around the London village of Hampstead. In an effort to shake up the investigation, DCI Tom Allen is taken off the case and replaced by fast-tracked colleague DS Simon Collison. Collison quickly realises that the solution is less than straightforward and agrees to trial the services of a very quirky civilian profiler, Peter Collins, to assist them in catching the killer.
The author has cleverly managed to produce a suitably gritty tale without resorting to gimmicks such as blood, gore or sex. The plot is well-crafted, intelligent and engrossing. The writing style puts me in mind of traditional crime fiction, where murders were treated as puzzles and clues carefully dished out to the reader throughout the tale, with some classic redirection that keeps the reader on their toes. I thought I knew who the killer was several times, only to be proven wrong in the following chapters. For me, one of life’s joys is finding a ‘whodunit’ that really does keep me guessing until the very end!
Overall, a classy and quirky modern crime tale with a big nod towards the traditional whodunit – a combination of a traditional writing style with an intelligent plot that should appeal to both older and more contemporary readers.
There is something almost comforting in curling up on a rainy Sunday afternoon with a traditional detective novel in hand. I thoroughly enjoyed Death in Profile and I would happily recommend this book.
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