ALL BODYBAGS AND NO KNICKERS
By Shawe Ruckus
Changxi (Chance) Yang and Catherine Roxborough are spending a blissful honeymoon in China. There they meet Chance’s family, which includes the parents of his cousin An and the woman he thinks is his birth mother. Secrets and ghosts from the past stalk the couple, however, and their perfect getaway is marred when three people are found dead in an abandoned seaside building. Three people that they had only just recently met.
Mystery fans picking up ALL BODYBAGS AND NO KNICKERS by Shawe Ruckus should buckle in for a long ride. The first third of the book reintroduces characters from the first two books in the author’s Mercenaries in Suits series, and while entertaining and larger than life, Chance and Catherine’s friends do nothing to advance the plot. The book continues to read more like literary fiction once the honeymoon begins, but it becomes much more enjoyable. Ruckus has an unusual gift of immersing readers into his text, making them feel like they are also tourists enjoying beautiful new places steeped in history and mouth-watering cuisines. It would be challenging to keep up with so many characters if the author had not given each a distinct voice. Conversations flow easily because of this, and people who make even brief appearances stick in the mind. ALL BODYBAGS AND NO KNICKERS would come across as an excellent travelogue if a feeling of quiet unease did not pervade the plot, getting more menacing with each broken flashback and character introduction. The details of the actual murders are jarring, cruelly pulling the couple (and the readers) out of their holiday bubble and into reality. Ruckus is generous with hints and clues but a master at hiding them in plain sight, which makes it even more satisfying when everything finally falls into place.
It is certainly a challenge to present a mystery the wrong way around, but ALL BODYBAGS AND NO KNICKERS meets this challenge well, packing the murder and the final resolution into the last third of the book. However, giving both more space to stretch out at the cost of removing fifty pages from the beginning would be an improvement.
With memorable characters, immersive descriptions, and astonishingly clever sleights of hand, Shawe Ruckus’s ALL BODYBAGS AND NO KNICKERS is a literary mystery, a travel guide, and a delicious thriller standing on each other’s shoulders in a trench coat. This book will send readers straight to the bookstore, looking for its prequels.
~Sakina Hassan for IndieReader