The Z Murders by J Jefferson Farjeon

J Jefferson Farjeon
The Z Murders

Oooh, this was very entertaining to read, and very fast-paced. I found it hard to put down, as it was so exciting, I felt like I could just devour it in one sitting and kept forcing myself to put the book down in order to restrain myself, although then I was puzzling about it when I wasn’t reading it. And I love the enticing storyline that a letter Z is left at each murder, and that the route of these murders form a letter Z on a map of England! What’s not to love about that?! I also love it as it’s from the British Library Crime Classics series, which I adore.

The Z Murders by J Jefferson Farjeon available on Amazon
 Kindle
 Paperback  Audiobook

Oooh, this was very entertaining to read, and very fast-paced. I found it hard to put down, as it was so exciting, I felt like I could just devour it in one sitting and kept forcing myself to put the book down in order to restrain myself, although then I was puzzling about it when I wasn’t reading it. And I love the enticing storyline that a letter Z is left at each murder, and that the route of these murders form a letter Z on a map of England! What’s not to love about that?! I also love it as it’s from the British Library Crime Classics series, which I adore.

The book reminded me a bit of the Richard Hannay Thirty Nine Steps book, with it not being from a policeman or detective’s point of view but just a member of the public, Richard Temperley, and him investigating things himself dashing about here and there, reacting to events rather than methodically planning out the next course of action or investigating each murder scene for clues, believing instinctively in someone and acting on those instincts rather than keeping everyone in mind as a possible suspect and trying to discover more clues as to who the guilty person could be. The enthusiastic amateur, really, pulled into the drama accidentally and becoming the lead. However, he’s not really working in order to provide information to the police, he’s not against the police but he’s not working with them either. 

I think one of the fascinating draws with the book is because Richard knows nothing at all, he doesn’t even have a suspect to follow, all he has is the mysterious woman, Sylvia, who was at the first murder scene and he seems to be following his instinct that she is trustworthy and also needs his protection. But she is concealing all she knows too. So really Richard knows absolutely nothing, who the murder suspect is, why the people have been murdered, or what Sylvia’s involvement is. He doesn’t really seem interested either in the murderer or his victims either, he is mostly just gallantly trying to help Sylvia, this is all he is interested in, which makes it a different book from the usual whodunnit, it does have the feel of more of a spy thriller. 

I did wonder if the ending would live up to the rest of the book, and it kind of didn’t. It seemed quite a complicated ending, the main criminal (‘Z’) had had his arms chopped off and the letter Z burnt into his forehead 20 years earlier by a rival gang of criminals, and had vowed to repay the leader of the rival gang, who was Sylvia’s grandfather. Z decided he was going to do this by killing random people in areas on the map that corresponded with the drawing of a letter Z on the map of England, so London then Bristol then Lincoln then ending in Whitchurch where grandfather lived and he would then be killed, and Z had given this threat to grandfather saying it would begin at 5am in Euston. Grandfather, now an invalid, was terrified and asked his daughter for help telling her it was to begin in Euston at 5am hence why she was there at the scene of the first crime, however she knew nothing of grandfather’s past but was warned by him not to involve the police. Z became aware of Sylvia as his intended victim’s granddaughter and decided she would be a suitable person to kill at one of the places before Whitchurch, but Richard had kept Sylvia safe. Z turned up at grandfather’s house and found Sylvia and Richard there but was killed by the police before he could kill them. Grandfather had left the house earlier and died in bad weather conditions. A bit overly complicated at the end, but thoroughly enjoyable and I’d read more of his.

The Z Murders by J Jefferson Farjeon available on Amazon
 Kindle
 Paperback  Audiobook

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