"I couldn't put it down until I finished," the reviewer said.
A departure in size and setting from my previous seven novels, which mainly had an East Asia focus, The Cut-Throat Razor Murders take place in a small town in New Zealand. The work is a short novella – a quick read -- in contrast with my historical fiction book Nanyang, which runs to some 700 pages in the paperback edition.
The story: The peace and quiet of the New Zealand town is shattered when a married woman in her mid-thirties is murdered with a cut-throat razor. There is no apparent motive for the killing. A week later, a second woman of similar age and appearance – long, light brown hair, medium build, attractive -- is murdered in a similar manner. The women do not know each other and appear to have nothing in common. In subsequent weeks two more women who fit the same description are killed in an identical fashion, their throats cut with a long-bladed razor. Inspector Harry Johnson and Detective Inspector Philip Edwards believe the murders were committed by one person but cannot fathom the murderer’s motive. A ten-year-old boy, who is a fan of mystery stories, takes a close interest in the murders to the concern of his widow friend who worries that by playing detective he may endanger his life.
With the passage of the 1920s, the Great War is more than a decade in the past. But veterans of the Gallipoli debacle and the horrors of trench warfare on the Western Front are still suffering emotionally from their experiences, leading the two police inspectors to ponder whether someone with a battle-induced psychological disorder could be responsible for the killings.