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Death and the Running Patterer: A Curious Murder Mystery (Curious Murder Mysteries)Book #15: Robin Adair, Death and the Running Patterer
Country: Australia

In the rough-and-tumble world of Sydney, Australia in 1828, nearly everyone has something to hide. Criminals from Great Britain are routinely shipped to the penal colony of New South Wales, and the city is full of ne’er-do-wells hoping to leave their pasts behind and create new lives for themselves. When a series of grisly murders disrupts the town, the governor of the colony involves the police, but he also enlists the help of Nicodemus Dunne. A convict himself, Dunne is permitted to live and work in the colony until his sentence expires; he makes a living as a “running patterer,” crying the news to interested patrons throughout Sydney. Dunne uses his far-reaching connections – from respectable tradesmen to unsavory convicts – to assist him in solving the crimes.

I picked up this novel because of the unique setting; colonial Australia seemed like the perfect setting for a historical mystery. Adair was obviously diligent in his research about the time period; the book is full of interesting historical tidbits and descriptions of real landmarks in Sydney. However, this strength of the book is also its main weakness: too much time is given to random factual digressions at the expense of the plot. The historical information is too obtrusive, and it’s often irrelevant to the main story. I also had some trouble following the plot and keeping track of all the characters. Even after the Big Reveal, several events and character motivations didn’t make sense to me. Finally, I was not impressed by the clumsy writing style; the attempts to be funny were painfully awkward instead. Ultimately, while the concept of this book was promising, its execution left me very underwhelmed.