Review: Countdown to a Killing by Tom Vaughan MacAulay

Description (from cover): “London, Sicily, Huddersfield 2016-2017: Wen Li is a deeply kind and sensitive twenty-nine-year old British-Chinese woman who suffers from severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which manifests itself in an incessant, overwhelming fear that she might have murderous impulses. Unlucky in love and emotionally scarred, Wen falls for colleague, Lomax Clipper, a tremendously frustrated and delusional Englishman. He’s in love with a Sicilian young woman he met while working in Italy, but he and Wen do share a mutual loathing of their boss, Julian Ponsonby. Julian’s struggling too–with a toxic relationship and his father’s refusal to accept his sexuality. On his return to Sicily, via a sabbatical, Lomax befriends Fifi de Angelis, a vulnerable Sicilian man with restricted growth who has been ostracised by his family.

An original concept, this is an innovative novel in literary fiction told through interwoven correspondence, emails and WhatsApp messages, with the suspense around an impending murder steadily building. Countdown to a Killing is a deep exploration of multiple perspectives and points of view of individuals who are inextricably bound. The key themes of love, sexuality, ethnicity, mental health and acceptance are sensitively explored in a unique linear year multi-layered and metafictional narrative. Packed with humour, heartache and a cast of expertly-crafted characters, this contemporary take on the epistolary novel will have you laughing and crying in equal measure.”

My Thoughts:

Epistolary novels are quickly becoming a favorite of mine. I think it is a unique way to tell a story and have the readers make their own determination about the events taking place in the story and about the characters themselves. In this book, the main characters are Wen Li and Lomax Clipper. They are both obsessive about things in their own ways. Wen has been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Lomax is obsessed with writing his novel at any cost. They are coworkers and friends and the story mainly covers their correspondence to each other and to other people. There are some other minor characters that show up in this book and we get to learn about them through their own correspondence, but mostly the story is focused on Wen and Lomax’s lives.

The author did a great job of weaving everything together. There were only two issues I had with this book. The first was the “editor’s” comments throughout the book to remind the reader that a murder was going to take place during the story. It felt repetitive and a little unnecessary to be overly reminded throughout the story. Having this happen once would have been sufficient enough to get the point across, but for some reason the author felt it wasn’t enough. The second issue that I had with this book is that it suddenly ends after the “murder” occurs. The murder happens and then the story ends. Not much is resolved afterwards and I felt like there could have been a little more of a conclusion as there was so much build up to the actual murder.

Overall, this book was fun to read and it did keep me guessing as how everything would play out with the impending murder. I really enjoyed learning about Lomax and Wen’s lives and how they handled everything with their relationships, work and families. I highly recommend this book to others and encourage others to seek this one out if you are looking for a different take on a murder mystery. This is MacAulay’s second novel and for it being only the second book he has written, this was a good read and one that I had a lot of fun reading.

Overall Rating: 4.5 stars

Author: Tom Vaughan MacAulay

Series: N/A

Publisher: RedDoor Press

Publication Date: May 26, 2022

Pages: 352

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

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