With Murder At the Rocks, Jill Patterson delivers a page turner for mystery lovers. The title is innocuous enough, and this is a case starring Inspector Fitzjohn, that meticulous Sydney Detective who will leave no stone unturned, no clue unfollowed and no suspect unquestioned. The Sydney setting is exotic enough for me, and the Aussie vibe is different enough to catch my attention.
Nicholas Harford is going home to Sydney after a year in Ecuador, but a little too late to meet his sick father. Nick mourns over a lost opportunity to make up with his estranged father. Nick lost his mother at a young age, and has hardly seen eye to eye with his father since then. He is astonished to find himself heir to his father’s estate with a controlling interest in the family business. And his father has left him a riddle in the form of an ancient gold locket with a missing key.
Laurence Harford is liked by none, and very few mourn when he is found dead in the alley behind his store. Nick finds himself a suspect, and hopes that his punch did not cause his uncle’s death. Detective Chief Inspector Fitzjohn has the case, and sets about investigating the murder. We follow a methodical trail as everyone related to the victim is interrogated, and every possible clue is chased. Bit by bit, the pieces of the puzzle are put together.
Is Nick innocent, or was he instrumental in having his uncle killed? Where does his father’s nurse fit into the picture? Nick sets about talking to the old gardener and housekeeper on his estate and learns new things. Why did his father hire a man to track him down in South America? Who has been stalking his uncle? What does the Vietnam war have to do with his family? And why is his uncle’s house filled with art from a certain painter?
Murder At the Rocks is a typical detective story where facts are revealed gradually, and you won’t guess the real thing until the end. Fans of Agatha Christie and M. C. Beaton are sure to love this book, and the character of Inspector Fitzjohn. I am eagerly looking forward to read another book in this series, and this book now has a place in my ‘must read’ detective stories.