‘Too Many Murders” by Colleen McCullough – Book Review

I read the hugely popular The Thorn Birds written by Colleen McCullough back in 1970s. Her name remains in my consciousness when I picked up this crime fiction in 2010. The title Too Many Murders was enticing for a read. I like mysteries and reading for clues in solving crimes.

Colleen wasted no time in launching readers with the first murder of a nineteen year old university undergraduate in the first chapter. A vivid description of walking into a trap and the process of death of this student was laid bare for me to feel the chill down my spine.

Colleen, a neuro-physiologist, wrote as if readers can take such details of murder. But then wouldn’t people like horror movies even they knew they might have nightmare after watching them? She brought realism to bear by describing the autopsy of the murdered victims.

The undergraduate was not the only murder of that day. There were twelve murders on the same day and in the same city. The way each victim died was different and they were so unrelated to one another. Could it be pure coincidence that there were so many murders on the same day? Were these murders related and there was a singular motive behind them?

As I read, I moved from one murder to another. I did not know there were so many ways to kill a person, from strychnine-in-the-orange-juice to bear trap and others. It was just too much gory details for one to stomach. Not anyone can take to this fiction and it can affect one with a faint-heart.

I could feel the unknowns faced by the chief of detective as he proceeded with investigations. There were so many possible motives for these murders, but which one was closer to the truth? The motive was complex and there could be a link to espionage of leaking military secrets to the Russians. You cannot speed-read this fiction because you may miss the arguments and clues of each murder.

All will be revealed only towards the end of the book. It was unexpected and beyond my imagination. However, the book ended with one paragraph that puzzled me. Maybe I should go back and read this book one more time and solve that lingering unknown. Or maybe not. Not critical.

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