Six Wicked Reasons is a compelling story of a dysfunctional family with a recently departed mother, a narcissistic cruel father and six children with a reason to murder their father.
Ten years ago, Adam, one of the six Lattimer children, disappeared without a trace, leaving a devastating impact on his family, particularly his mother, Kathleen. She never overcame the grief, which is suggested as the reason for her early death. Out-of-the-blue, Adam returns home to the family home in Spanish Cove, Wexford, Ireland. Their father, Frazer, calls each of the other five children, Ellen, James, Kate, Ryan and Clio, to return home and welcome back the missing brother. Why do they all feel compelled to do as he asks and return home?
Frazer rents a boat from his lifelong friend Danny who also accompanies the family for a celebratory evening at sea. Not to miss an opportunity, Frazer announces at the party that he has a new partner in his life, Ana, and they plan to marry. This was probably Frazer’s real purpose in hosting the evening, to let them know they are being cut out of the sizeable inheritance.
Survive that one Frazer!!
During the evening, Danny notices Frazer isn’t present and they discover blood by a railing and the dead body of Frazer floating overboard. Told you!!
“Their brother had returned and now their father was gone. Frazer Lattimer, sixty-one years of age, native of Scotland, resident in Ireland most of his adult life, was dead. His children looked at one another, and wondered. Which of them had murdered him?”
The story is narrated over different time periods with a voice given to each of the six children, providing background and their response to the call to return home. The other ever-present voice of Detective Rob Downes probes with questions to determine what happened. He keeps them all in the harbour master’s office, reluctant to let them leave until he has a clear understanding of the events of the evening while it’s still fresh in their minds.
There are elements of the story that feel like an Agatha Christie novel where everyone is gathered in a restricted location and as they look around all present, they know someone is a murderer, and the detective knows one of them is a murderer. Jo Spain provides a wicked reason why each of them had the motive to kill Frazer and this is well balanced to the very end. I felt the guilty party was a great outcome so it finished on a sound conclusion. The flow of the story between the six characters, Detective Downes and the various time periods was extremely well planned and executed with a seamless transition between each thread.
The big difference between Jo Spain’s approach and Agatha Christie’s is that the detective is pretty ineffectual in this novel and the murder mystery is revealed through the narration from each suspect. It is also difficult to come to terms with the animosity Frazer had towards each of his children.
This is a well-written murder mystery story and I would recommend reading it. I would also like to thank Quercus Books and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC version in return for an honest review.