Book Review: Portrait of a Murderer by Anne Meredith


Portrait of a Murderer by Anne Meredith
My rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4 stars)
Publisher: The British Library

When the patriarch of a family is found to be dead on Christmas morning and not one of his six children nor their accompanying spouses can be bothered to even give the pretence of mourning him, you know it's going to be a ripping read. Adrian Gray is that patriarch and even more unfortunate than not being mourned by his brood, one of them has murdered him.



This story takes us through not just on the who but along the winding road of why and the coverup and framing of another. Go all in on dastardly deeds or go home, I suppose. The killer recounts the murder to the reader and gives background on their relationship with their father and wider family. Adrian Gray is rather cold, judgmental and demanding and it seems to have done nothing for his spawn but made them a grasping, craven lot who don't care about him or each other but are all singularly interested in the name and the money. This makes for an interesting feeling when reading how one is framed and tried as the miscarriage of justice is undeniable but there's no real will to pull for the further fortunes of the wrongly accused.

When I finished this I had to give it about a day to think about my review. Overall, a well-done story. There's quite a bit of breathtaking anti-semitism here directed at one character and given the time and setting, it makes sense. Still, it was jarring and I hadn't expected it. This reminded me of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie with the murderer cleverly casting seeds of misdirection about and almost getting away with it. Apparently, whether in Kings Poplars or King's Abbot don't let the halcyon settings lull you into thinking you've not happened upon a nest of vipers.


Summary: "Adrian Gray was born in May 1862 and met his death through violence, at the hands of one of his own children, at Christmas, 1931." Thus begins a classic crime novel published in 1933, a riveting portrait of the psychology of a murderer.
Each December, Adrian Gray invites his extended family to stay at his lonely house, Kings Poplars. None of Gray's six surviving children is fond of him; several have cause to wish him dead. The family gathers on Christmas Eve - and by the following morning, their wish has been granted. This fascinating and unusual novel tells the story of what happened that dark Christmas night; and what the murderer did next.


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