Book Review: Death in Profile: Book 1 of the Hampstead Murders, by Guy Fraser-Sampson

Publisher:  Urbane Publications

Publication date:  1st March 2016 (Kindle), 17th March 2016 (Paperback)

Death In Profile My Review

DEATH IN PROFILE - KINDLE COVERIntroducing the conundrum of a present day murder mystery to the ‘Golden Age’ of detecting creates the first of the Hampstead Murder series. Death in Profile is a contemporary crime fiction package, wrapped with a tantalising nostalgic bow.

With a serial killer still roaming loose after an arduous eighteen month search, the existing detective has been removed from the unsolved case and instructed to take immediate leave. But Tom Allen is determined not to let go to the point of obsession and endeavours to work on his theories behind the scenes, with or without the help of his colleagues.

A new supervisor is drafted in without delay to shepherd the weary team and apply the fresh eyes needed to catch a killer. Simon Collinson is the chap with his neck on the line this time. He quickly employs the services of a civilian profiler desperately hoping for an insight into the kind of depraved character they should be looking for.

This decision leads to some questionable investigative skills, bravely relying on cameo appearances by distinctive Dorothy Sayers’ characters in an attempt to solve, and I’ll be honest here, some rather obvious clues. The art of ‘channelling a fictional detective’ from one of her novels could prove useful to the regular bumbling detectives already working the case who have missed, stumbled over, then chosen to ignore practically anything remotely of interest.

The exclamation, “why didn’t I think of that!” features heavily. Well, bally hell. Isn’t that the million dollar question…?

But, if you’re determined to take this too seriously you’ll be missing a fabulous, atmospheric trip to a bygone era of crime solving, where everyone appears to be living in a bizarrely tame society, excepting the serial killer of course.

While this particular case has plenty of bark it was missing a little bite for me, particularly during the big reveal. Having said that I believe there’s much more for the unusual crime solving team to offer in future, and I’m delighted to praise to any author who dares to apply a quirky twist to the conventional.

Sometimes it feels good to wind down from the grittier paced diehard novels and this provides the perfect excuse to do just that. No blood-thirsty thrills and spills, just the good ‘Old [fashioned] Bill’.

Rating: 3.5/5

(Huge thanks, as always, to Urbane Publications for providing a digital copy of this book for review, via NetGalley.)

Death In Profile Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

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?

Praised by fellow authors and readers alike, this is a truly original crime story, speaking to a contemporary audience yet harking back to the Golden Age of detective fiction. Intelligent, quirky and mannered, it has been described as ‘a love letter to the detective novel’. Above it all hovers Hampstead, a magical village evoking the elegance of an earlier time, and the spirit of mystery-solving detectives.

Guy Fraser-Sampson is an established writer best known for his series of ‘Mapp and Lucia’ novels which have been featured on BBC Radio 4 and optioned by BBC television. This is his debut work of detective fiction, and the first title in the Hampstead Murders series.

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Death In Profile Author Bio(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

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.

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5 thoughts on “Book Review: Death in Profile: Book 1 of the Hampstead Murders, by Guy Fraser-Sampson

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Death in Profile, by Guy Fraser-Sampson – Tracey-anne's Weblog

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