Festival of Death: An Edinburgh Murder Mystery by Heath Savage
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Festival Of Death: An Edinburgh Mystery is a complex satirical character-driven story which loosely revolves around three themes: The Edinburgh Arts Festival, several murders and the city’s gay community.
Jez believes he is a cutting edge arts director; his current piece The Works has drawn an eccentric group together. He likes to control people including his current girlfriend Jude, but much of Jez’s life is made of illusion and delusion.
I congratulate the author for bringing this complex mix together; there were a lot of parts with twists and turns, evoking humour, shock and sadness.
The story had a large number of characters and the narrative skipped back and forth between those involved with Jez and the police force who were trying to solve the murders. The author’s portrayal of the police seemed inclined to poke fun at them, a little; perhaps it was to try to lift the darker side of the book?
This wasn’t an easy book; firstly the dark and seedy side of Edinburgh was highlighted which was in line with the story, but it may not suit everyone. Next I found the author’s choice to reflect the strong Scottish accent in much of the dialogue hard work—although there is a glossary of words at the front of the book— I still struggled with the dialogue throughout the book; just a suggestion of the dialect would have given the same idea.
The writing style was also a challenge as the author ‘tells’ us the story rather than ‘shows’ us which made it exhausting in a whole book. It meant no break in the pace, no time to form empathy with any of the characters and no chance to feel part of the story. Overall, a rethink of the presentation might have made it an easier read.
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While Edinburgh parties through its famous International Festival, two local gay men are found near Calton Hill, viciously beaten, dead. DC Deborah Keane, is a woman who embodies the new Edinburgh, and she is one of the team of investigating officers. The team is led by DI William Alexander, a man who embodies the old Edinburgh.
Meanwhile, a successful avant-garde theatre director, Jez Teival, is discovered dead in bed in his south Edinburgh flat, shortly after his new production opens at The Pleasance Theatre to wild acclaim. His unconcious girlfriend lies on the floor beside him. The obvious cause of death is a twisted game gone wrong, until DC Keane discovers links in a chain of events, inspired to look a little closer.