Invitation to Die by Helen Smith

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Invitation to Die by Helen Smith

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: Amateur sleuth Emily Castles investigates the murder of a blogger at a writers' conference in London.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: May 2013
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781477807309

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I must confess I feel a little apprehensive writing this review. Why? It has to do with the subject matter of the book, a murder mystery set in a London Hotel. The murder victim just happens to be a blogger who writes book reviews [laughs to self nervously] and one of the key suspects is a writer who has taken offense at the poor reception that her book has received online. I keep telling myself that this is only fiction. Only fiction.

Invitation to Die is a quintessentially English murder mystery featuring an astutely drawn mix of larger-than-life characters. The Romance Writers of Great Britain are holding a conference at the high-class Coram Hotel in Bloomsbury, where nervous manager Nik Kovacevic is keen to ensure that everything goes smoothly. When one of the guests dies in mysterious circumstances, amateur sleuth Emily Castles decides to investigate, jotting every detail down in her trusty notebook.

The book is very funny indeed and I was getting some very odd looks from my husband as I sat on the sofa, chuckling away to myself. There seems to be a winning line on every page. Here are a few of my favourites:

...her reviews were so poisonous...that she kept an antidote by her computer, in case her words should ever come back to bite her.

[In response to a writer moaning about a bad book review] ...why don’t you think of it as waste matter Cerys?...You’ve done it, now leave it. Get on with producing the next one.

Cerys, it’s a frilly sleep-mask, not a very small bra...

I loved the scene at the end where all of the suspects are gathered together around a table in the hotel and Emily, notebook in hand, prepares to reveal whodunit. The scene is played for laughs, with Emily flitting between each suspect in turn, explaining their motives and then exonerating them one by one until only the guilty party remains. There are lots of red herrings in the story and the author does a wonderful job of keeping the reader guessing right to the end.

Unfortunately, I found the final 'reveal' a bit silly and the weakest point in the narrative by far. The explanation of how and why the murder took place seemed poorly thought out and was a let-down in comparison with the rest of the book, which I really enjoyed.

I loved the idea of the One Star Club, a secret society with members that conspire to leave one-star reviews for books, goods and online services. Fortunately for Helen, I am not a member of said club and have no intention of giving her wonderful book one star.

Review done. I might lay low for a while. Just in case....

If you like cosy murder mysteries with plenty of twists, try Dead in the Water by Veronyca Bates or The Herring In The Library by L C Tyler.

Buy Invitation to Die by Helen Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Invitation to Die by Helen Smith at

Buy Invitation to Die by Helen Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Invitation to Die by Helen Smith at


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