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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beauty of Murder - brilliant
"There is no beauty in murder and loss, only in coming out of the aftermath stronger and more alive."

Every so often, you pick up a novel and start to read it with no real preconceptions of what it may be about, or how it may unfold before you. And if you're really lucky, it turns out to be a novel that hits you between the eyes with its stunning story, its...
Published 17 months ago by Keen Reader

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite good but could have been much better
This debut novel by A.K. Benedict involves time-travel, serial killers and some academic musings, especially in philosophy. It is reasonably successful but I have some reservations about it.

The plot is bizarre but interesting. I don't want to give anything away, so I will say only that a Cambridge academic becomes embroiled in a weird series of murders which...
Published 21 months ago by Sid Nuncius


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beauty of Murder - brilliant, 11 April 2013
By 
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Beauty of Murder (Hardcover)
"There is no beauty in murder and loss, only in coming out of the aftermath stronger and more alive."

Every so often, you pick up a novel and start to read it with no real preconceptions of what it may be about, or how it may unfold before you. And if you're really lucky, it turns out to be a novel that hits you between the eyes with its stunning story, its wonderful words, its mind-boggling and earth-shattering twists and turns that leave you hungering for the next page and the next page, until you turn the last page and feel real sorrow that you have finished the book. I have been lucky enough to hit the jackpot twice lately; once with The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones, and with this book.

It's hard to believe that this is the author's first published novel, and I sincerely hope that there will be many more to come. It would be nice to read more of the characters introduced in this book, and so I hope for a sequel, but I think it would be good just to read anything more that A K Benedict should care to write. She has taken a storyline that would defy easy explanation, and woven it into a story that I found myself totally engrossed in.

Stephen Killigan, arriving to take up a position at Cambridge as a senior lecturer, finds himself continually haunted by things in his childhood that he thought he would have been able to leave behind. Quite quickly he is drawn into a new horror; the body that he finds which then quickly disappears without a trace, and the feelings of `unreality' in his life that he struggles to comprehend, and to deal with. What happens to him next is a revelation (and I won't go into it here, as it would act as a spoiler, which other reviewers have unfortunately not respected).

The premise of this story is outrageous; unreal, impossible. But the author has taken this man, and his story, and the story of a cynical and weary police inspector, and put them together with characters who seek to find the aesthetic beauty of murder, of people who have no honour, and people who have too much, of people who seek redemption, and those who seek revenge. This is an absolutely brilliant novel. I cannot recommend this highly enough. I will be looking out for more by this author, without doubt.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars `He is the most dangerous man I have ever met.', 13 Mar 2013
By 
L. H. Healy "Books are life, beauty and truth." (Cambridgeshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Beauty of Murder (Hardcover)
`He is the most dangerous man I have ever met. He can turn his hand to any skill and charm the pages from a book, the fur from a cat, the life from a man without once feeling remorse.'

Stephen Killigan is a newly arrived lecturer at Sepulchre College, Cambridge. One evening he finds the body of a young woman who has been missing, and informs the police, but when they go and look for the body it has vanished. This is the start of Stephen's life-changing involvement with a most unusual serial killer, Jackamore Grass, which will see him time travelling between the present day and the seventeenth century in pursuit of the truth.

The narrative moves between distinctive voices; first person accounts from Stephen and from the enigmatic Jackamore, and the investigation into the murders by the hassled police Inspector Jane Horne. This helps keep a good pace and maintains the reader's interest in all aspects of the events and the seemingly inexplicable crimes. The investigation is made particularly intriguing as the usual methods of detection are not always helpful in this case, when dealing with a criminal who can slip away through time.

I was struck by the author's wonderful use of figurative language in this novel; phrases such as `the wind has a knife to my throat and is pick-pocketing my bones', `close up, his teeth are yellow and lean against each other like drunks'.

The setting of Cambridge and the surrounding Fens landscape provides much history and atmosphere, and many secrets, all of which the author draws on and incorporates to good effect in her tale.

There is much to admire and intrigue in this debut novel. It crosses over several genres to offer us a speculative thriller, complete with murder-mystery, police investigation, philosophy, the aesthetics of murder, time-travel and magic. It's inventive, haunting and compelling.

(review copy from lovereading provided for an honest review).
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite good but could have been much better, 12 Dec 2012
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Beauty of Murder (Hardcover)
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This debut novel by A.K. Benedict involves time-travel, serial killers and some academic musings, especially in philosophy. It is reasonably successful but I have some reservations about it.

The plot is bizarre but interesting. I don't want to give anything away, so I will say only that a Cambridge academic becomes embroiled in a weird series of murders which turn out to involve time-travel. Benedict generally handles this well and, to her credit, makes the silly-sounding idea work. The plot swings into life early on and I enjoyed the first 100 pages or so very much, but I thought that things got tangled and messy and hence dragged rather in the middle of the book, and it could have done with some firm editing.

There are, as seems almost compulsory these days, multiple narrators. They all speak in the present tense which in a time-travel novel is probably just as well for clarity but did feel a little mannered to me. The prose is readable and the book is generally well written, but particularly the often mildly ironic tone of the central character, the philosophy don Stephen Killigan, did get a bit much at times. I could certainly have done without things like the description of a dawn outing beginning, "The sun is barely breaking wind under the duvet of clouds when we climb into the boat," the like of which crop up fairly regularly. I also found some anachronisms rather spoiled the atmosphere for me - saying "It's okay" in 1635, for example, or talk of banknotes in the same year (they weren't in use until much later) and so on. I don't want to nit-pick, but there was enough of this sort of thing to interfere somewhat with my enjoyment.

Good editing and some serious tightening up could have made this a very good book. As it is, I can offer only a somewhat qualified recommendation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beauty of Murder, 16 Feb 2013
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Beauty of Murder (Hardcover)
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Dr Stephen Killigan is a new lecturer at Cambridge, whose attempts to impress the faculty are undermined when he stumbles over the body of a missing beauty queen, found wearing a stone mask. Naturally, he informs the police of his gruesome discovery, but when they arrive the body has disappeared. Stephen's attempts to make the police believe him are unsuccessful, and he is warned about his behaviour. Disbelieved by Inspector Jane Horne, alienated from his old friend Satnam, intrigued by librarian Lana Carver, confused by the motives of the suspicious Dr Robert Sachs and aided by eccentric academic Iris Burton, Stephen embarks on a search to discover what really happened.

This is an excellent debut novel, with a real mystery storyline and a well woven, and believable, time travel element. Normally, I dislike fantasy storylines of any type, but the author never loses touch with the crimes that are central to the novel. The characters, both male and female, are well written and sympathetic, with a wonderfully evil criminal and the whole book is a joy to read. I sincerely hope that we get to read more about Stephen Killigan and Inspector Jane Horne is, by far, too great a character to appear in only one book. In all, I really enjoyed this novel and think the author has created an original story with a great setting. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beauty of Murder, 12 Feb 2013
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Beauty of Murder (Hardcover)
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Stephen Killigan has recently started a new job as a lecturer in Philosophy at Cambridge. He is finding it difficult to settle there and he always feels cold. One evening he goes out to get a kebab for himself and his friend, Satnam, and stumbles across the body of missing beauty queen, Miranda.

Naturally he tells the police but when they go to recover the body it is no longer there and doubt is cast by the police and the media on Stephen's story and he finds himself under suspicion. But he saw what he saw and he cannot get it out of his head. He keeps seeing in his mind's eye the mask the body was wearing and the words scored into the flesh of her arm `This is Your Fault'.

Virtually from the first page this elegant, quirky mystery had me hooked and I had to keep reading just to try and figure out what was really happening. Crime, metaphysics, philosophy, time travel and seventeenth century history feature largely as well as Stephen's life in present day Cambridge and the life of the DI who is in charge of the missing beauty queen case. Stephen is likeable character as is Jane Horne, the DI who doesn't know whether or not to believe Stephen's fantastic story.

The book is well written and I liked the witty one-liners and amusing descriptions but some may find them intrusive. I liked the way the story was told from several different points of view and in the first and third person depending on whose story was being told. I thought the characters were very well drawn and some were delightfully eccentric. I particularly liked Iris - the elderly lady with the air of mystery who is hugely knowledgeable about everything.

If you want something in the crime/mystery genre which combines several other genres as well then give this a try. A K Benedict is definitely an author I shall be looking out for in the future.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly seductive, 1 Dec 2012
By 
This review is from: The Beauty of Murder (Hardcover)
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In theory, this had quite a lot to recommend itself to me, with its Cambridge setting, its focus on the dark goings on within academia, its central character a metaphysicist, and plenty of ethical and moral debates in store, coupled with a curious time-travelling murderer, so lots of history too. A sort of weird squiff of Shardlake and Donna Tartt perhaps.

So I settled down with enjoyment, only to start tutting and sighing extremely quickly. Benedict is a good writer, creates interesting character quickly, crafts the language well - BUT Benedict is also a clever wordsmith, a bit too fond of her own clever, witty word plays - attempting to hide this as her central character's foibles, but it is fairly clear it is Benedict herself who is a little indulgent with her word plays:

"Well, that's not very erotic"

"No, but it is erratic"

'Satnam is a minimalist, with a spreadsheet for his bedsheets'

I could feel my ire beginning to rise at the spectacle of someone being self-consciously witty for 400 pages.

And then, quite suddenly and quickly, the book got its claws into me. Our central character is weird, a little damaged, a bit gawky, believeable - and at sea. A parallel story unfolds as murders and corpses begin to puzzle our hero. The police team enters on the scene - and our central cop is a female, struggling to come to terms with her diagnosis of breast cancer and the choices to be made. (This is not a spoiler, it is very quickly introduced)

We have a Northerner at large with a slight Northern chip on his shoulders and a sad past as the central character, trying to make sense of himself in an elite intellectual hothouse, and a female detective battling the glass ceiling and a diagnosis.

Into the mix strolls a very weird time travelling serial killer (as he would) If you accept the premise - and Killigan, our metaphysician, by trade has to question everything about reality, so it becomes easier for the reader to accept Benedict's fantasy - particularly as she is so very good and describing the worlds, (mainly 1635 Cambridge and 2012 Cambridge) so very well.

Throw in a whole handful of excellently constructed red herrings, a breaking-the-mould quirky librarian and love interest, and, yes, eventually Benedict's wordplays, and I was eagerly waiting to get back to find out what happens next and resenting interruptions to my reading

Not to mention, the teaser that this could even be the first part of a series....Perhaps not, but Benedict is rather playful!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Clever, 27 Jun 2014
By 
D. Seddon "Thank you" (UK) - See all my reviews
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A beautifully written novel, with lots of twists and turns, and a cracking ending. I didn't expect the time travel element to be as clever as it turned out to be.

This was a novel I could not put down, a real 'page turner'.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing and exciting book, 31 Mar 2014
I was given this book as a birthday present by my daughter, who knows that I like murder/police/spy novels. As I started to read it I was at first mystified, and then as the plot unfurled, absolutely gripped by the story and the characters. Luckily I was on holiday for a few days, and so could indulge and read the whole book in about three days. As other reviewers have said, it blends some interesting elements such as time travel with a nicely 'academic' style, but never loses touch with the action or driving forward the story line. I was delighted to read the final page, which hopefully indicates that there is a sequel in the pipeline.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating, 4 Nov 2013
By 
Liz Wilkins "Lizzy11268" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Beauty of Murder (Hardcover)
Stephen Killigan has been cold since the day he came to Cambridge as a junior lecturer. Something about the seven hundred years of history staining the stones of the university has given him a chill he can't shake. When he stumbles across the body of a missing beauty queen, he thinks he's found the reason. But when the police go to retrieve the body and find no trace, Killigan has found a problem - and a killer - that is the very opposite of reason.

Oh what to say about this one. It was one of those books you just did not want to finish because it was utterly captivating. I'm not sure what it is about novels that are set in either Oxford or Cambridge but something about those cities sure does capture the imagination of writers to the utter benefit of readers like me. This was no exception..

Imaginative and completely absorbing, this is a twisted mystical tale with some terrific characters, a strange and wonderful premise and some mesmerising writing. In a lot of ways a classic good versus evil story, we have two intelligent protagonists, one on the side of light, one with a dark heart, each trying to outsmart the other, all set against the backdrop of a city I love - Perfect.

Extremely strong characterisation, all with their own alluring foibles, I fell in love with Satnam, Stephen's friend and often wanted to shout at Robert Sachs who finds such beauty in death. Iris Burton quickly became one of my favourite characters ever in fiction and Stephen himself is the perfect flawed hero to travel the road with. As for the villain...well.

I'm not going to say much more - grab yourself a copy and let the mesmerising Jackamore Grass take you to a world you cannot yet imagine..

Sublime and unconventional, do not let this one pass you by.

Happy Reading Folks!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting and intriquing, 24 Oct 2013
This review is from: The Beauty of Murder (Hardcover)
I have just finished reading this book and wanted to review it at once. I would love to know about the author's academic background as she writes seemingly so convincingly about quantum physics, metaphysics and philosophy. There is a confusing, more vague section in the book but this was no bad thing for me as I am usually a very fast reader and I certainly had to concentrate on this novel. The language is exquisite on occasions and her contemporary dialogue is witty and engaging. I loved Dr Killigan's best friend Satnam and he leapt from the page in all his scenes as a real person. The idea behind this book is intriguing and normally time travel would not interest me. However, a clever murder story does! I was left with the thought that this book is about the sadness of loss of beauty and the loss of love. There are some beautiful passages towards the end of the book from Dr Killigan and two policemen about losing what you love - emotionally and physically - and carrying on without forgetting, and I suppose we all have to face this at some time or another.
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