Christopher Huang’s twisty new whodunit, Unnatural Ends (Inkshares), should make you feel better about your own upbringing, no matter how wretched it seemed.
It’s 1921, and Sir Lawrence Linwood has been bludgeoned to death in the study of his Yorkshire manse, likely by someone he knew. His three adopted, adult, and successful children—Alan, Roger, and Caroline—return home for the funeral, only to learn of a peculiar clause in their pater’s will: the one of them who identifies his murderer inherits the estate. Although the siblings hungered for his approval, Sir Lawrence was a callous parent, instilling in them fear, and emphasizing ruthless self-interest over compassion. Each believed they were his promised heir—an obvious motive for murder. As they investigate the slaying (often reluctantly), revealing themselves as intriguing individual characters, they also discover disquieting family secrets and suspect that answers to this mystery lie in their birth origins. The stakes only become greater after Sir Lawrence’s long-suffering wife is arrested for his slaying.
Huang heaps his suspenseful, well-written yarn with red herrings and other classic genre tropes (secret passages, impersonators, a locked room), but employs them in distinctive fashion. An outstanding follow-up to his 2018 debut novel, A Gentleman’s Murder. ◊