invitation to die – helen smith

Invitation To Die

“We would like to invite you to come to London to meet my agent, Lex Millington, of Millington Bussell, for afternoon tea and a chat about the publishing business at this year’s Romance Writers of Great Britain conference, which will be held at the Coram Hotel in Bloomsbury, London.”

I was offered a chance to read a review copy of Invitation To Die by Helen Smith.  I’ve reviewed her previous books Alison Wonderland and Being Light, which I absolutely loved.

Invitation To Die is apparently the first full-length story starring Emily Castles (she has already appeared in novellas Three Sisters and Showstoppers but these don’t need to be read to enjoy this book).   I have to admit that I haven’t read these, but I may well go back and do so!

Twenty-something Emily Castles is unemployed, and so when romance author Morgana Blake offers her a job helping out at a conference in London, she readily accepts.

However, when American blogger and book reviewer Winnie Kraster accepts an invitation to the same conference, she doesn’t realise she has made a fatal mistake.

The Romance Writers  of Great Britain’s annual conference atrracts its usual oddball characters – the authors, and for the first time book review bloggers, but a real-life murder mystery becomes the theme this year, rather than lust and love.

Emily Castles starts half-heartedly investigating the increasingly strange and suspicious goings-on of the conference attendees, making notes in her ‘sleuth’ notebook.  But can she in fact manage to solve the case?

The two previous Helen Smith books that I have read have been a little surreal, whimsical and slightly odd.  This book, although featuring larger than life characters who act in slightly strange ways doesn’t seem to carry that little bit of magic – it felt far more of a conventional murder mystery.

I’m not saying that it wasn’t good – it was very good indeed, and I loved the characters, but there wasn’t that little element of whimsy that I was secretly craving.

I loved the way that it felt almost like a modern day Agatha Christie.  All the characters were assembled and quite captive, and were all addressed at the end by the sleuth, suggesting and then discounting why various people could and then weren’t the killer!

An intelligent, likeable contemporary heroine and a clever plotline.  Being a book reviewer, it felt particularly poignant – and makes me very wary of giving bad reviews in the future 😉


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