When his aunt is murdered, NATO Rapid Response officer Captain Charles Ellandun finds she’s left him a literal locked-room puzzle. Granted, Aunt Edith is the one who taught him to pick locks. But what he finds in her garret hauls their family’s past into the present and knocks his war-damaged brain even further askew.
Now more people than usual are trying to kill him and unless he wants to be the next one dead, he must figure out why she is—fast. But the hunt for her killer takes him and his team members to places he’d rather not visit—to the art gallery where she died, the police station where he’s a suspect, the past he’d thought safely locked away, the family he doesn’t want to love, and the memories of the war that he just can’t shake.
It has been a long time since I have found myself engrossed in a “modern” mystery. The reason is simple: I am not a fan. With apologies to this author, J. Gunnar Grey, my favourite mystery writer is Agatha Christie. I also enjoy Georges Simenon, Earl Stanley Gardner, Samuel Dashiell Hammett, Ross Macdonald, and their contemporaries. I had about given up trying to find a modern mystery writer, who wrote to my taste, until I read J. Gunnar Grey’s: “Trophies (The Ellandun Wars)”.
At last, I found an exciting new mystery author! J. Gunnar Grey describes herself as ‘The 1940 Mystery Writer’ – maybe that’s why I appreciate her writing as much as I do!
Whatever the reason, “Trophies” is an excellent mystery novel. And even though I know the ending, it deserves re-reading.
The main character, Captain Charles Ellandun, is quite complex, and the novel is written through his eyes, delving into different stages in his life. It is in the current time frame that is the home of the murder, the murder of Charles’ aging Aunt Edith. An unbelievable murder from Charles’ standpoint. Why anyone would want to kill the one woman, who glowed in Charles’ past and present life, became a mystery for Charles to solve, before he became the next victim.
Charles, a war veteran, who is plagued with dark memories, vivid flashbacks, and at times finds himself back at war holding a gun. These flashbacks can occur at any time, but are strongly triggered as Charles’ find himself at the centre of Aunt Edith’s murder. The flashbacks take him completely out of the present time zone, becoming a short blackout occurring at any moment, which could prove to be somewhat dangerous.
We are transported back to Charles’ youth, teenage years, and as a young adult. But always coming back to the present, the murder, and Aunt Edith’s past. Charles uncovers family secrets and treasures, that may have been better left undiscovered!
This type of time travel must be skillfully written, so as not to confuse the reader, and keep the novel’s story line moving forward. J. Gunnar Grey is skilled at transporting the reader through various stages of Charles’ life, using points of view that keep the reader focused, attentive, interested, and puzzled – in all the appropriate places!
Charles’ character is surrounded by family, friends, and foes, who supply excitement, guidance, danger, protection, and a little romance – just like the 1940 era mystery novels!
“Trophies” does not hand the reader easy clues or background information. The reader must stay alert to follow the exciting trails in this novel – and it is well worth the effort! Gunnar Grey does not disappoint the avid mystery reader.
On a more personal note, two of the characteristics I appreciate in “Trophies” are: a lack of descriptive violence and needless offensive language. Neither are required attributes in the telling of a story, but often are inserted. Without those characteristics, “Trophies” is a much better read, and one that can be read and enjoyed by general audiences.
Read and Enjoy!!
P.S. This book cover includes a subtitle: “Book One of the Ellandun Wars”. ‘Book One’! That must mean there is another book on its way! I will keep my eyes open and keep you informed!