A pre-Internet murder mystery set on Cape Cod in the 1980s, “Hide and Seek” tells a murder mystery backwards: we know the identity of the murderer, but not that of the detective. David Draper, scion of an old, wealthy Boston family, meets the lovely actress Melanie Carson at one of his Aunt Grace’s fabulous Beacon Hill costume parties. As they become romantically involved, David grows increasingly and wildly jealous of the elusive, secretive, and ultimately disloyal Melanie, finally murdering her in her North End apartment in a fit of rage.
Because David has covered his tracks, Detective Gallivan of the Boston Police does not suspect him of the crime, and David feels he is in the clear. But six months later, David’s close sister Dorothy (Dots) invites both David and their Aunt Grace to a Murder Mystery Weekend at an old courthouse turned venerable hotel on a tiny island just off the east coast of the Cape.
David is hesitant, but his suspicions turn to alarm as he realizes that someone among the cast of participants in the murder mystery weekend is out to catch the murderer of Melanie. When the pretend corpse is dressed, down to Melanie’s unusual lipstick color, to resemble Melanie, David becomes convinced one of the guests is in fact a real detective on the hunt.
Unfortunately for David, everyone in the game must play detective, and so everyone looks suspicious! It’s a race against time as David must determine motive and opportunity to figure out the real detective before said detective fingers David as the real murderer. His work is complicated by the fact that he is unnervingly assigned the part of the secret murderer in the game they are ostensibly playing. He must detect the detective among guests that include the effete British Lord Alfred; a hard-boiled insurance salesman from Providence, Rhode Island; a beautiful female psychologist from Boston; David’s own Miss Marple-like aunt and his Nancy Drewish sister; and even a Boston priest, Father Cerubini. Or could the detective be the mysterious and sullen hotelier John Fredericks or, perhaps, his crazy wife-in-the-attic Elaine? Or is it, after all, the one person at the weekend game who is an actual detective as well as friend of Aunt Grace, Detective Gallivan from Boston?
As David finds to his horror, each member of the cast has not only a connection to Melanie but also a reason to want to avenge her murderer. David must carefully outwit the stealth detective by intuiting his way through a reverse mystery in which the game is deadly serious-and what he thinks is serious might be but the tricks of paranoia. Are the guests out to get David as the game murderer, or is their pursuit much more than a game?
“Hide and Seek” is a psychologically suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat page-turner that weaves together strands of the major genres of crime fiction, from British detective puzzle to American hard-boiled whodunit, from old Miss Marple detective to Nancy Drew girl-sleuth, from scientist and doctor to patient, from priest to sinner.
Paperback: 222 pages
Publisher: Kepler Press (April 24, 2011)
A fun mystery read that is turned up on its head. From the beginning we know who got murdered and who the murder is, but we don’t know why someone is looking or the murderer. This is what keeps us glued to the book. It was fun to read this type of book for a change. The characters were well done and made you want to like some and hate the rest. This is a book I would want to read again. Reminds me of the old Clue game.