A Book Spy Review: ‘How to Solve Your Own Murder’ by Kristen Perrin


Perfectly structured and filled with suspense, Kristen Perrin, making her adult fiction debut, delivers a fascinating and twisting whodunit packed with wit and heart that’s perfect for fans of Richard Osman and Anthony Horowitz. 

Ever since a fortune-teller at an English country fair uttered the words “Your future contains dry bones, Madame,” to teenager Frances Adamsn and explained that she would one day be murdered, Frances has been obsessed with unmasking her own killer. That was sixty years ago. Now, in the present day, Frances, a wealthy recluse who rarely leaves her sprawling country estate, has asked her great-niece, Annie, to travel to Castle Knoll to partake in conversations about her will. Annie, an aspiring mystery novelist, has never actually met her great-aunt but nevertheless agrees to the arranged meeting. But just moments after Annie and Frances’ lawyers arrive, they find Frances dead in her library. It’s clear that she’s been murdered. Her will even states that she expected to be. Now comes the catch: Frances’ wishes state that her fortune goes to whoever is able to solve her murder within a week; otherwise, her estate and assets will be sold to developers.

With the board set and the game afoot, the race to find Frances’ killer is underway.

Perrin opens her gripping debut with a brilliant setup that’s reminiscent of the classic Golden Age mystery novels from Agatha Christie and Margery Allingham. There’s the clever plot, a plethora of unique and eccentric characters, the English countryside, and, most importantly, the well-placed clues that’ll allow eagle-eyed readers to solve the crime before the big reveal if they’re paying close attention. What there isn’t, though, is the standard detective, ala Hercule Poirot. Or even Miss Marple, for that matter. Instead, Perrin opts to tell half of the story through the perspective of Annie Adams, a twenty-five-year-old self-proclaimed “struggling writer,” who’s moved back into her mother’s house to plot her next move. That’s where we meet our amateur sleuth, and it’s her narration that carries the bulk of the story.

Shifting timelines and narratives take readers back to 1965 to hear from Frances, who shoulders the other half of the storytelling load while also providing the bulk of the clues and red herrings, of which there are many. While the parts set in the past are excellent and necessary to the story, the present-day timeline with Annie is compelling as well, and as the story unfolds, Perrin does a fine job developing her main character as Annie, who really comes into her own, evolves from a low-confidence wannabe detective into a wing-flapping, crime-solving peacock. (Maybe that’s a touch too far, but you get the picture.) Bottom line: Perrin makes good on her strong premise by treating readers to a fun and exceptional mystery that, from start to finish, is hopelessly addictive and almost impossible to set down.

A witty and fun twist on the classic whodunit, Kristen Perrin’s How to Solve Your Own Murder serves up a clever closed-door mystery that’ll keep readers guessing until the very end.

Book Details

Author: Kristen Perrin
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0593474015
Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: March 26, 2024



Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and is building a growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” is now available. His second novel, LETHAL RANGE, is also in bookstores, and his third book, OUT FOR BLOOD, comes out on June 4th. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. To interact with other readers and talk about your favorite books and authors, join The Real Book Spy’s Discord server.


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