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A very good way to get me interested in a book is to name-drop Agatha Christie on the first page.

I'm a fan, as I may have mentioned a million times, and so, apparently, is A.J. Finn, who has finally followed up his 2018 blockbuster "The Woman in the Window" with "End of Story." Finn's thriller/whodunit hybrid mentions Christie frequently, in fact. Its main character, Nicky Hunter, is a woman (and mystery fan) who has been summoned to the stately San Francisco mansion of a writer, Sebastian Trapp, whose life is as shadowy as his bestselling whodunits.

Trapp, who is dying, wants Nicky to write his biography and help him "solve an old mystery or two," specifically, what happened to Trapp's wife and adolescent son, both of whom vanished 20 years earlier.

If you're up for being kept in the dark, one of the early pleasures of "End of Story" is not knowing precisely what sort of book it is. It's set in the present but if Charlotte Brontë had a laptop and access to social media, you could imagine her crafting "End of Story," which begins in the Gothic territory of her "Jane Eyre."

Forbidding mansion? Check. Mysterious sounds? Check. Characters whose fate is unknown? Check. Second wife who is dogged by memories of the mysteriously disappeared first wife? Check. Haunting apparitions of supposedly dead people? Check. Creepy painting that seems to follow characters around a room? Check. There are no broody moors but it's San Francisco, so there's plenty of fog and the Pacific Heights mansion even has a secret passageway.

Eventually, there's also a murder. It takes about 200 pages to get there and that feels too long. Finn ratcheted up the tension immediately in "Woman in the Window," in which an unreliable narrator witnessed evildoing at the beginning of the book, but "End" spends a lot of time on scenery-setting. That's tricky, since it's difficult to invest in the disappearance of two characters who were gone well before the book begins.

Luckily, Finn is an assured, witty writer with a gift for entertaining description and sharp instincts about how many references to other mysteries he can get away with. Most of the time, he finds inventive ways to supply context — when Nicky's situation is likened to that of the main character in Christie's "Peril at End House," Finn fills us in how they're similar — but he also includes sly references to plot details invented by classic mystery writers, references that are fun if you happen to notice them but don't bog down "End" if you don't.

It could be dangerous to name-drop Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Raymond Chandler and others. Those legends raise expectations and plenty of writers since them have invented compelling situations that they couldn't figure out how to resolve.

Finn, however, knows what he's doing. The way he wraps up "End of Story" is so satisfying that it fits comfortably in that august company.

End of Story

By: A.J. Finn.

Publisher: William Morrow, 408 pages, $30.