Title: The Murder List
Author: Jackie Kabler
Published on: 31 May 2022
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers
Mary Ellis is a freelance crime writer. She is sorting her Christmas presents – some are to be donated to charity. She is about to give away a diary for charity when curiosity gets the better of her and she opens it. She finds a bright yellow sticky note on the first page: READ ME
She turns the page to 1 January and sees an entry: MURDER LISA, OXFORD. No more entries until 1 February. Mary finds three more entries, dating up to 1st April.
1 February: MURDER JANE, BIRMINGHAM
1 March: MURDER DAVID, CARDIFF
1 April: MURDER MARY, CHELTENHAM
Mary lives in Cheltenham…
Mary sees this diary almost at the end of January. She has heard of the New Year Murder at Oxford. Lisa Turner was found dead in Oxford on New Year’s Day – murdered as she was on her way home from a New Year’s Eve party.
Mary takes the diary to the police station and tells the detective about the entries. She feels he hasn’t given much importance to what she has to say. The detective does a bit of background check on Mary – she’s quite famous, you see. Daughter of late Gregor Ellis, a renowned crime writer who perished in a house fire while his daughter survived with multiple burns.
He informs the Birmingham station about a possible murder. But with just a day to go before the next murder, the cops cannot do much. Come 1st of February, a certain Jane is found murdered in her backyard. The Cardiff police have a month before they can save David from getting murdered. The problem, though, is which David would the killer target?
Then there is Mary – who would be murdered on 1st of April, unless this is all the killer’s sinister idea of Fool’s Day joke…
The Murder List starts with a bang. The tension, the suspense, the mystery behind the murders kept me on the edge of my seat. I don’t think I have ever read a book where the serial killer sends someone a list of their targets – and that someone is also in the list!
We have two PoVs in the story. Mary is one of the narrator while the second is the conversations that happen in the police station. Cardiff, Birmingham, Cheltenham and Oxford stations join a conference call every now and then to discuss the case. Mary is included in few of their calls – not only is she a renowned crime writer, she’s also the ‘point of contact’ of sorts for the killer.
Mary lives with her roommate Pete Chong. They met eight years ago and are the best of friends. Though people have told them before that they would be better as a couple than as friends – as they have a lot in common, Pete and Mary do not think so. Pete is in a steady relationship with Megan.
When Jane is found murdered, Mary decides to involve herself in the investigation. She wants to find the connection between the victims. She’s quite sure she does not know any of the victims but the killer isn’t randomly choosing their next target, innit? Or, are they?
Halfway through the story we have a twist. More of a shocking revelation – the kind that makes your heart skip a beat. I read a particular sentence twice to make sure I read it right. Totally unexpected! This particular shocker is further explored with Mary trying to keep this a secret from the coppers and Pete.
Until 80%, the story is full of suspense and mystery. Then comes another twist – the identity of the killer and Mary coming face-to-face with them. This was quite unavoidable, after all, Mary was the fourth target. The identity of the killer is where I felt a little let down. The ending and the killer’s identity did not do justice to the suspense that was built from the beginning of the story. I kept my expectations high, especially with Mary’s shocking revelation and all that, but felt a little let down when the killer finally comes out in the open.
The Murder List by Jackie Kabler is an engrossing and gripping mystery. If you love mysteries involving investigation journalists and serial killers, you might want to give this book a try.
I received an ARC from One More Chapter and NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.