Murder at Midnight by John Ukah

Murder At Midnight by John Ukah
Published by The Fearless Storyteller House Emporium Ltd on November 15, 2016
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: Author
Purchase on: Amazon// Barnes & Noble// BookBub
Add to: Goodreads // StoryGraph

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Alex Simpson, an ex-police officer, decides after a bout of typhoid fever to take a break in a serene and therapeutic environment. The last thing he expects is to be called upon to solve a murder at the Kinging Guest Lodge. But that is what happens, when the delectable and vivacious Maria Marshall is found dead in her bedroom, murdered at midnight.
The gallery of characters living at the guesthouse and thrown into the mix, do not make his task of solving this chilling and brutal murder any easier …


Cozy mysteries are such a guilty pleasure of mine. They’ve got the intrigue from harder, dramatic mysteries, while also keeping things relatively light and fluffy. Most of the cozy mysteries I’ve read have been by female authors, so when I was approached to review Murder at Midnight by John Ukah, I was super intrigued to see how a cozy mystery written by a man would differ, if at all. Surprise! It was definitely different, but not for the reasons you might think!

Taking place at a resort/lodge in Nigeria, protagonist Alex Simpson arrives newly retired and looking for peace. This despite his previous trip to the lodge resulting in a suspicious suicide. Right from the start, Ukah gives us clear backgrounds on the cast of characters before hitting readers with the murder. From there, the case and book progress quickly. The resolution makes sense and feels fulfilling.

Now, the reasons why I gave it a three star rating over anything higher, despite the story being simple and light. The first, it didn’t feel like a cozy mystery. The people involved weren’t regulars everyone knew or close friends or members of the community. The protagonist was a former police officer and not a make-shift wannabe detective piecing clues together on their own while juggling a business or retirement on the side.

My second reason for the three star review is the lack of finesse regarding the technical quality of writing. I’m not sure if it is the difference in dialects between Nigerian English and American English, or if the author wrote this is another language originally and translated it over, but the writing feels incredibly stilted. The sentences and dialogue are a little too formal and ‘perfect.’ They don’t feel realistic. I think this is Ukah’s first book, and if so, it shows in the lack of flow. Part of the story seemed like pure narrative exposition of information instead of peppering the information into the story. It felt like I was being given a list of facts and information instead of leaving me to pick up the clues and facts and information from the dialogue and action. I was being told instead of shown. These are things that, with time, can be improved.

Despite the rigidity of the writing itself, Murder at Midnight by John Ukah is a fun, light read. I would love to see more from Ukah in the future to see how his writing progresses.


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