The Mystery Writer: A Novel

Image of The Mystery Writer: A Novel
Release Date: 
March 19, 2024
Poisoned Pen Press
Reviewed by: 

“A book impossible to put down.”

“He awoke early on the day he died, lying unmoving for a time under the weight of frustration. The inertia of despair. . . . There was nothing left to do but die.” And thus starts The Mystery Writer by Sulari Gentill. A book impossible to put down.

When Theodosia Benton leaves Australia for Kansas, America, she follows her dream of escaping her parents desire for her to become a lawyer, and chases her own dream of being a writer. Little does she expect to find murder and love instead.

Her brother Gus, an attorney, welcomes her, yet she will have to overcome his over-protective nature to find her true life. Gus encourages her writing dreams, and she ploughs forward. She finds a small restaurant that welcomes writers of all levels, and it does not take long before she meets Dan Murdoch, a well-known writer.

Dan recognizes her talent for creating a good story and offers to mentor her. Although he is older than she, it does not take long for Theo to realize she is falling in love. Add to this, he is represented by Veronica Cole, agent for Day Delos and Associates, one of the primary literary agencies in the country and she is thrilled that her dream is another step closer to reality.

This is until the day that she discovers Dan murdered. The police identify Theo as the primary suspect and life begins to crumble. Here Gus’s friend and associate, Mac Etheridge, a private detective, is hired to dig into Dan’s death and determine who the true murderer is.

As if this is not enough, a mysterious Dark Internet group—The Minotaur (major fans of Dan’s work)—follow the investigation and they are convinced that Theo is, indeed, the guilty party. The group is led by a shadowy character named Primus. Accusations and death threats soon follow when Primus no longer participates in the group.

Gentill throws a second murder into the mix when a stranger, Burt Winslow, approaches Theo telling her he has her (now missing) manuscript that Dan had taken. Within a hair’s breadth, Winslow’s dead body turns up not far from Gus’s house. When it is determined that Burt Winslow was not who he said he was, suspicion falls more heavily on Theo. 

It does not take long before the arrows of suspicion point to Gus and his over-protective attitude toward his younger sister. Add to this Gentill’s twist in the story as love begins to develop between Theo and Mac. “He made her laugh and smile,” two sensations she has not experienced in more years than she can remember.

Mac suggests that Theo and Gus take refuge at his family’s retreat for protection. 

Soon Gentill brings another character into the fray, Mary Cowell, a supposed friend of Dan’s. Mary and Theo begin to develop a warm friendship, until it is discovered that Mary is, in truth, an aggressive newspaper reporter looking for a story on Dan’s death. Soon fate deals another blow when Mary is murdered. Now the police are having a hard time determining which suspect best fits the bill—Gus or Theo.

Both are questioned in police custody when suddenly Theo is represented by Alexander Wilson, a well-known lawyer who successfully gets her out of jail. She mysteriously departs police detention when “A black BMW pulled up in front of them and Wilson opened the back door. They stepped in.” And Theo is not seen again, but she leaves an inexplicable confession to murder, thus removing Gus from suspicion.

Time begins to move on, and Gus, who loses his job as a lawyer, rebuilds his life as a private detective with Mac. Throughout this entire plot, Gentill increases Victoria Cole’s grasp on Theo, playing on her dream to become a famous writer. Mac and Gus’s search for Theo remains high on their list of priorities, when one day Mac discovers a newly published book that looks suspiciously like Theo’s original manuscript. He and Gus begin to follow a thin trail of clues that grows exponentially.

A good mystery has multiple twists and turns, leading the reader through a maze of clues and red herrings and foreshadowing until the truth is uncovered. To say that Sulari Gentill follows this path would be an understatement of huge proportions. Just when the reader thinks they know who the real murderer is, Gentill throws in a sharp turn and we start all over again. And don’t be surprised if January 6, 2021, doesn’t make a brief appearance!

Gentill fans will find this read beyond entertaining and will anxiously await her next story.