The Strange Case Of The Barrington Hills Vampire by James Scott Byrnside

Good afternoon, bookworm, do come in. You’ll have to keep your eyes peeled as one of the dragons is rather over-excited by the blustery weather so keeps dive-bombing the bookshelves. This hasn’t gone down well with the books and they’re gathered in various corners, pages aflutter, to complain about the menace.

Speaking of menaces, have you heard of The Strange Case Of The Barrington Hills Vampire by James Scott Byrnside? Here, have a cup of tea and some cookies while I tell you all about it.

First, here’s the blurb:

In 1880, a vampire terrorized Barrington Hills, feasting on the locals and leaving their mutilated corpses as evidence. Now, forty years later, it’s happening again.

Detective Rowan Manory and his assistant Walter Williams are hired to investigate. They don’t believe in the undead, but nothing else could explain murders so bloodily impossible.How does the killer walk through walls? Why doesn’t it leave footprints in the snow? Who will it kill next?

Can the detectives solve the case before the vampire strikes again? Can you? You will have all the evidence necessary to solve the mystery including:

1. A map of the first murder

2. A floor plan of the house

3. Footprint diagrams showing all movement in the snow

4. A challenge to the reader featuring eight questions you must answer before the final chapter.

The Strange Case of the Barrington Hills Vampire is a thrilling impossible-crime murder mystery from the author of Goodnight Irene and The Opening Night Murders.

Next, here’s a little about the author: James Scott Byrnside is a murder mystery/impossible crime fanatic. He likes locked rooms, footprints in the snow, missing murder weapons, and unreliable suspects. All of his novels deal with impossible crimes and baffling plots. Goodnight Irene (2018) tackles the problem of the locked room within a country-house murder mystery. The Opening Night Murders (2019) is a densely plotted example of the invisible killer. His latest, The Strange Case of the Barrington Hills Vampire (2020) is a paean to the supernatural detective story, including a no-footprints problem and a locked-room murder that must be read to be (dis)believed. In 2021, he plans to release Bay of Blood, a murder mystery set in 1950.

And here’s my review: I’ve read some pretty dark books recently and wanted something completely different to cleanse my literary palette. This was the perfect book for the job.

I immediately likened the protagonist Roman Manory and his amiable companion Walter Williams to Sherlock Holmes and Watson and the author acknowledges the similarities with a tongue in cheek reference in the invitation the pair receive to a gathering of detectives. There is more banter and sarcasm between this pair though which I smiled at on numerous occasions.

I also found myself thinking of the other great literary detective, Hercule Poirot, in Manory’s interrogation style which is a positive for me.

But what made this book unique is the author’s challenge to the reader to try and solve the crime before the big reveal at the end. The narrative is interspersed with maps, lists and notes of evidence to help the reader in this quest which I enjoyed. I won’t be giving up my day job any time soon though; I was completely off the mark!

A couple of the secondary characters blurred a little for me and I would have liked a little more background into what makes Manory and Williams tick but overall, this was an entertaining read.

I’m giving this 3.5 stars out of 5 and recommend it to anyone who enjoys Agatha Christie whodunnits. If you would like to purchase a copy of this book for yourself, you can click on the image above to take you to the relevant page on Amazon. I don’t get anything for providing the link, I’m just being a helpful bookworm.

Drat, it seems the Adventure genre have made a large net to try and capture the zooming dragon. I’d better tempt him to settle down with some cinder toffee or there’ll be even more chaos. Until next time, bookworm, farewell!

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