Hannah’s plots are like intricate jigsaw puzzles whose pieces you cannot believe will fit together, until you see the completed picture. Her denouements tend to make more sense in retrospect than at the time. The fun in reading The Next to Die — even when the scaffolding fails to fully support the structure — isn’t in learning whodunit, but in following the labyrinthine byways of its author’s peculiar worldview and the twisted motives of her characters.
Hannah does a good job spinning things initially, forcing readers to consider every imaginable scenario as to why Tibbeck received a book in the first place, but the big reveal is one that veteran readers of the genre will likely see coming. That said, the buildup is quite fun, and her smooth writing style provides an easy and fun reading experience.
Accusations of misogyny aside, this tenth in the Waterhouse-Zailer series has a lighter tone than others and a motive that seems insufficient for taking multiple lives. Still, it’s a wonderfully played-out puzzle, with food for thought about the importance of books.