Book Review: “The Chessman” by Dolores Gordon-Smith

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The Chessman is the ninth book in the Jack Haldean Mystery series. Set in the 1920s, Jack, a detective novelist, is called in to help solve a murder case involving a body, a church, and a ton of lilies. When one murder spawns into many more, each marked with a chess piece, Jack must track down the serial killer before all his pieces are wiped off the board.

I was turned on to The Chessman by a post on Hogwarts Professor by John Granger. He recommended the book and announced that review copies were available. Trusting Granger’s taste in books implicitly, I jumped at the opportunity. When I received the book, I didn’t even bother reading the back cover or anything in the title past “The Chessman,” so it took me a few pages to realize I was in the 1920s. And I didn’t discover The Chessman is Book 9 until after I had finished reading. I say this because if you are wondering if this is a series where you have to start at Book 1 in order not to be lost, you don’t.

The characters and world of the story are richly portrayed. And the plot kept me engaged throughout the story. I never reached a point where, other than having to put the book down for basic necessities of life, I felt like I could step away from the story with ease. Most of the time I cooked breakfast with one hand and held my Kindle up with the other. My husband and I were grocery shopping, and he had to ask me to put the book down while we walked through the parking lot so, you know, I didn’t get hit by a car or anything.

If you are looking for a good mystery with an unpredictable, at least in my case, ending, I strongly recommend The Chessman. Not only is the mystery engaging, but the world is also inviting (other than the whole serial-killer-on-the-loose thing), and the characters are lovable.

Small disclaimer to my cozy-mystery friends. While the murders themselves are gruesome, most are portrayed “off camera.” I didn’t find the descriptions to be overly bloody in detail, but know your own sensitivity going in. The Chessman is by no means a “thriller” in the blood and guts sense. It is mostly a detective novel with the characters trying to get to the bottom of the case.

A great read!

Thank you to Seven House for providing a free review copy.

You can also listen to Dolores Gordon-Smith chat about the Cormoran Strike series on MuggleNet Academia.