A Different Kind of Evil

Written by Andrew Wilson

Review written by Stephen Thornley

An avid reader, Stephen's knowledge of Crime Fiction is fairly extensive, with The Golden Age is his greatest interest.

A Different Kind of Evil
Simon & Schuster
RRP: £14.99
Released: May 31 2018

Just imagine “our Agatha” (the creator of Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot) secretly working for the British Secret Service. Well in Andrew Wilson's latest thriller (the second involving the famous crime fiction writer), we find her sailing to the Canary Islands to help the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) investigate the death of one of their agents. Douglas Greene has been murdered and his part mummified body left in a cave.

It is a murder mystery set in 1927 in the sub-tropical warmth of Tenerife with the arid landscape of Mount Tiede, an ancient civilisation and strange beliefs and practices all in the background. We are in the 20s those heady days of style and panache, Art Deco and Cubism, flappers and Jazz. It is a fast changing world where the standards of behaviour so valued by the Victorians are being cast aside by many wealthy young people.

Agatha has her daughter Rosalind and Secretary Carlo with her. She has persuaded her family and doctors that a holiday in a warm climate will help her recover her health after her separation from husband Archie (and famous temporary disappearance to Harrogate). On the voyage out to Tenerife Agatha finds herself seated with a party of varied and interesting people at dinner. She is witness to a disturbing scene when one of her fellow diners, seemingly distressed by her husband’s infidelity throws herself overboard. The weather closes in and the body is not recovered.

Agatha is told that there is a person on Tenerife that the Secret Intelligence Service are interested in, a Gerard Grenville who is well known both on the island and beyond as an occultist and devil worshipper. When the body of a man, another of Agatha’s fellow diners on the ship, is discovered not far from Grenville’s house Agatha’s suspicions become stronger. Is he the something that links these seemingly quite unconnected deaths?

It is beginning to look as though she will have to play a lone hand when her SIS colleague, John Davison, appears to deliberately withhold information from her on one of the suspects. Agatha is in a vulnerable situation searching for a killer, while still recovering from the mental trauma of her separation and with pressures to write “The Mystery of the Blue Train” as well as looking after her daughter.

This is a very cleverly woven plot with a strong set of well-defined characters that Mr Wilson handles with aplomb. The narrative is expertly crafted to dovetail with the historical detail, creating a lively and at once believable plot. We follow the investigation with Agatha, feeling every twist and turn it brings. The narrative is at once familiar and comfortable describing day to day events but, it can quickly turn to the tense and dramatic.

We know Agatha would love to just throw it all in and take off back to England to forget this nightmare but, she gave her word she would help. It will be her instinct for ‘seeing’ criminal intent, an instinct honed in her writing that she will have to rely on. Will Agatha’s intelligence to identify even the smallest of clues and know their significance get her results in this foreign land?

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