Friday, 19 December 2014

The Case of the Imaginary Detective by Karen Joy Fowler

Karen Joy Fowler’s novel, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, was a big hit this year, worthy of a place on the Mann Booker short-list. I had a look at one of her earlier books, The Case of the Imaginary Detective, a story featuring another damaged female character.  Rima is grieving after the recent deaths of her brother in an accident and her father from leukaemia. She holes up at the seaside home of her godmother, the acclaimed novelist Addison Early, famous for her series of Maxwell Lane mysteries.

Addison lives a secretive life with her oddball housekeeper, Tilda, and employs university students to walk her dachshunds, encouraging them to help Rima re-engage with the outside world. The other odd thing about Addison is the miniature dolls’ houses she creates, each one a grisly tableau of a different Maxwell Lane murder.

As Rima settles in, she can’t escape the urge to discover what caused the rift between Addison and her father many years ago. It's a puzzle that leads her back to the now derelict Holy City, once a religious community under the helm of the autocratic William Riker and the scene of a suspicious death.

The Case of the Imaginary Detective has plenty for the reader to enjoy – quirky characters with interesting pasts; mystery and clues galore; a sympathetic main character; the atmospheric setting of a seaside town in winter. All this comes together beautifully because of Fowler’s superb writing. Surely this author gets ten out ten for originality.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: The Case of the Imaginary Detective

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