Mervyn, as the script editor of the fictional TV show Vixens from the Void, is invited to recording of a DVD commentary for an episode, only to find it being picketed by religious protestors due to the fact that the episode is blasphemous. Halfway through the commentary, the writer of the episode opens a water bottle, picked at random from the table, drinks from it and drops down dead – poisoned. But none of the other bottles are poisoned…
I’ve spoken before of my love of locked room and impossible murders, but it’s been ages since I’ve read a new one. Clearly Nev Fountain is also a fan, as all of the boxes are ticked on a three-layered mystery – how the trick works, why the trick occurs in the first place and who did it. By the way, it’s not the same solution as Three Act Tragedy, in case you think it sounds familiar.
As in his other books, nothing is irrelevant. The Mervyn Stone books are like jigsaw puzzles – even the red herrings are essential parts of the overall story. There is plenty of comedy here, probably the least in-jokey of the three books, but as before, this sits alongside the story – the jokes are not making fun of the format, merely the characters therein.
One warning – the Mervyn Stone books have some adult content, emphasised here not just in some naughty language but in one particular intimate scene which has to be read to be believed. I’ll say no more, as there might be young people reading this.
If you’re an adult though, or a naughty youngster who’s got their hands on a copy of this, you’ll have one of the finest detective stories of recent years. I honestly can’t recommend this book highly enough.