A Spider on the Stairs

A Spider on the Stairs

Book - 2010
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Best friends Phillip Bethancourt, a wealthy man-about-town, and Scotland Yard Detective Sergeant Jack Gibbons are each on their way to Yorkshire over Christmas, though not together, and neither of them are looking forward to their respective trips. While Phillip is returning to his family's estate to spend the holiday with relatives---a dreaded task---Jack must determine whether a particular murder is the work of a serial killer. It looks like it most likely is. As it turns out, Jack isn't onthe case for more than a day before the understaffed locals ask him to look in to another.

Jodie Farrady, a former bookshop employee who disappeared about a year ago, is found strangled in that same shop Christmas morning. The modus operandi is similar to the serial killer's, but not exactly the same. It could be a copycat. It could be a coincidence. Either way, Jack could certainly use his good friend's help as he investigates the citizens of a Yorkshire that has suddenly turned quite deadly. Luckily, Phillip is all too eager to escape his own holiday and join the hunt.

A Spider on the Stairs ---Cassandra Chan's contemporary reimagining of the classic English mystery---is not only a tale that is every bit as delightful and charming as the luminaries in this beloved tradition, but by far its most worthy heir.

Publisher: New York : Minotaur Books, 2010.
ISBN: 9780312369408
Characteristics: 310 p. ;,22 cm.


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Nov 10, 2011

It's true that the title is mostly (completely) irrelevant to the story. Or if it is relevant, then only through some figurative gymnastics that are too much for my inflexible body. But as far as the mystery goes, I commend it, for two reasons. First, Chan has done an amazing job of evoking a period feel. For the first half of the book, I did a double-take whenever a character would pull out their cellphone, since I was convinced that the events where happening in the age of Christie and Sayers, but ultimately the goal of setting a classic English mystery in the modern day was accomplished, and as a huge fan of Poirot and Lord Peter Wimsey, I enjoyed it. Second, the solution was ingenious, and evidenced that perhaps most important rule of Golden Age detective fiction: the solution of the murder must be nearly impossible to predict and yet obvious in hindsight--and it was.

Sep 17, 2010

Too much description, with graphic details about the murders. If two unimportant sentences had been left out, the author could have chosen another title that actually had something to do with the story.

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