The Busy Body

John Scognamiglio Bks.: Kensington. Jan. 2024. 320p. ISBN 9781496744531. $27. M
DEBUT For the unnamed narrator of Kemper’s first novel, being hired to ghostwrite the memoir of former Maine senator (now failed presidential candidate) Dorothy Gibson is the opportunity of a lifetime. The key to crafting a best seller is getting and staying as close as possible to her new subject, which means following Dorothy everywhere she goes, including to a memorial service for a neighbor. However, when the question arises as to whether the neighbor’s death really was a suicide, the narrator quickly finds herself playing Captain Hastings to Dorothy’s Poirot. Given Kemper’s knowledge and admiration of Agatha Christie—he cohosts the podcast All About Agatha—it isn’t surprising that he displays a similar flair for clever cluing and crafty characterization, not to mention the ability to throw in a killer plot twist at the end that would make Dame Agatha proud.
VERDICT Fans of David Handler’s equally entertaining Stewart Hoag series or those in search of a modern take on classic crime fiction will snap up this stellar mystery debut, which delivers an addictive mix of Dorothy Parker’s waspish wit and Agatha Christie’s deft hand at ingenious plotting.
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