The Final Round by Bernard O’Keeffe

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on The Final Round by Bernard O’Keeffe. This is a book I’ve had in my TBR for a while so I thought it was about time I tucked in. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy
Release Date: 27 May 2021
Publisher: Muswell Press

About the Book

Introducing Detective DI Garibaldi, a country-music loving, self-educated detective, and the only cop in the Metropolitan Police who can’t drive a car.

On the morning after Boat Race Day, a man’s body is found in a nature reserve beside the Thames. He has been viciously stabbed, his tongue cut out, and an Oxford college scarf stuffed in his mouth. The body is identified as that of Nick Bellamy, last seen at the charity quiz organised by his Oxford contemporary, the popular newsreader Melissa Matthews.

Enter DI Garibaldi, whose first task is to look into Bellamy’s contemporaries from Balfour College. In particular, the surprise ‘final round’ of questions at this year’s charity quiz in which guests were invited to guess whether allegations about Melissa Matthews and her Oxford friends are true. These allegations range from plagiarism and shoplifting to sextortion and murder…

My Thoughts

Well DI Garibaldi is quite the character. I like him. Yes, there are many aspects of his character which do fit the stereotypical detective trope – failed marriage, complicated relationship with his son, but he’s very down to earth and relatable, and that sense of normality, both in terms of home and work life, make him I character I found it very easy to engage with. And who doesn’t like a character who arrives at a crime scene on a bike? There is a sense of him being better alone, at least when it comes to the Detective work, but he was an interesting guy to spend time with. He doesn’t always conform to procedure, and some of the ways in which he conducts investigations and interacts with suspects will have the detective fiction purists raising more than the odd eyebrow, but it fits the story, and the character well, and what is fiction if not a chance to step away from the expected?

When it comes to the wider story, the characters who make up the vast majority of the remaining ‘cast’, I’d say reactions are far more varied. In fairness, they were a very hard bunch to like – former university friends whose desire to achieve the ultimate in one upmanship outweighed any redeeming qualities they may have had. There were so many reasons to dislike them, and yet this was exactly what pulled me further into their story. The murder victim – killed in deliciously dark style – was one of their own, and the more we learn of him, and of them, the more you realise it could be literally any of them. This meant that the identity of the killer, and the motive, remained will hidden until the end of the book, keeping the suspense alive. They are all former Oxford students – as pretentious as you may be expecting – and the murder occurs on the occasion of the prestigious Oxford-Cambridge boat race. Quite the statement really – as was the mode of dispatch.

This was a well paced book, one that kept be completely entertained. There are surprises in store for both reader and the characters, the ‘final round’ of the title referring to the annual charity quiz that they all attended. This is the first in many years that the victim attended, and ultimately to be the last, not just for him, as many dark secrets are revealed which certainly serve to muddy the watters in terms of suspects. It keeps everyone on their toes, as well as pitting them against each other in trying to determine just who is behind the scene stealing moment. If you like solid detective fiction in which the lead character is delightfully normal and yet still suitably maverick, this could well be the book for you.

About the Author

Bernard O’Keeffe worked as an English teacher, most recently at St Paul’s School in Barnes, where he currently lives . He has previously written one Young Adult title.

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