The Last Word is Elly Griffiths’ latest crime novel. Listed as a standalone, it reprises characters from the first Harbinder Kaur novel, the Postscript Murders, and Harbinder also appears in this one. I wish Elly would stop using ‘The Last…’ as her titles. This is at least the third, and I have plenty of L titles for my Alphabet Soup Challenge already!

The Last Word

by Elly Griffiths

Natalka and Edwin, whom we met in The Postscript Murders, are running a detective agency in Shoreham, Sussex. Despite a steady stream of minor cases, Natalka is frustrated, longing for a big juicy case such as murder to come the agency’s way. Natalka is now living with dreamer, Benedict. But her Ukrainian mother Valentyna has joined them from her war-torn country and three’s a crowd. It’s annoying to have Valentyna in the tiny flat, cooking borscht and cleaning things that are already clean. To add to Natalka’s irritation, Benedict and her mother get on brilliantly. 

Then a murder case turns up. Local writer, Melody Chambers, is found dead and her family are convinced it is murder. Edwin, a big fan of the obit pages, thinks there’s a link to the writer of Melody’s obituary who pre-deceased his subject. 

The trail leads Benedict and Edwin to a slightly sinister writers’ retreat. When another writer is found dead, Edwin thinks that the clue lies in the words. 

Seeking professional help, the amateur investigators turn to their friend, detective Harbinder Kaur, to find that they have stumbled on a plot that is stranger than fiction. [goodreads]

My Review

If you write, this could put you off writing retreats forever. It also helps me explain my reluctance, indeed my phobia, to join a writing group. But given the levity which Elly Griffiths ascribes to the whole writing business (and she obviously has a good perspective on it), it all rings horribly true. And what if there did turn out to be a connection between people going on a specific writing weekend and turning up dead, presumably from a heart attack, a little while later?

It’s a wonderful construction, and in among the clues and serious business, I had a lot of chuckles. But I didn’t enjoy it as much as a Ruth Galloway novel, even though the plot was properly convoluted. Maybe too convoluted? There were an awful lot of people in it: count one for each dead person with an obit by Malcolm Allison, plus the writers who had died since Allison had died, and their families and other inheritors… By the end which writer was which confused me, but by then I don’t think it really mattered. Maybe I’d sorted out the ‘persons of interest’ by then anyway.

A good cosy mystery, with added police presence to help them out, which is an interesting twist on the amateur sleuthing genre.

Book Review | The Last Word by Elly Griffiths
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2 thoughts on “Book Review | The Last Word by Elly Griffiths

  • 2 March, 2024 at 1:53 pm

    At the moment, I am far too addled to think about a challenging pile of characters! But it might appeal at some point.

  • 4 March, 2024 at 4:20 pm

    Just saying hi,
    Tomorrow, in theory, I’ll try again to join a writing group
    Highly unlikely to get through the first meeting . Will they be intimidating ? Will two or three dominate ? Is it me, or is it them ?


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