* I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to review this book. *
Murder in the Crooked House is a clever take on the locked-door mystery. A small group of people has gathered at the mansion of a retired industrialist to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. On the first evening, one of them is found murdered in his room. The door is locked from the inside, there are no other entrances in or out and there are no footprints in the snow outside. The scenario is made weirder by several reports from other guests: a terrifying face appearing at an upper-story window, random stakes appearing in the ground and later gone, and a man screaming half an hour after the time of death.
The local police struggle to find any clues that are not instantly dismissed. Their bafflement is deepened by the weirdness of the house's design. The floors slope, there are unusual locks on the doors and the rooms are set out in an array where you cannot easily go from one to another. When a second guest is murdered it seems that the murderer must be one of the remaining guests, but the detectives still can make no progress at all. In the end, they appeal for help, but the person sent is not at all what they were expecting.
I found this a very intricate plot, with a conclusion that ties up all of the preceding weirdness quite neatly. It is possible to work it out in advance, but I couldn't. It could be fun to stop at a point where the author challenges the reader, and try to nut it out, but I didn't accept that challenge.
The scenario for this story reminded me a lot of Anthony Shaffer's Sleuth, which Shimada name-checks in the book. I'd think that anyone who enjoyed that would really like this one.