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'Crooked Street’ by Priscilla Masters

Published by Severn House,
28 October 2016.
ISBN: 978-0-7278-8666-8


‘My husband hasn’t come home’ says Eve Glover to the duty officer at Leek police station.  ‘He’s never late’’ Although three hours isn’t regarded as a serious for an adult man, DC Hesketh-Brown logs the call and takes details.  The following day Detective Inspector Joanna Piercy having established that Jadon Glover has still not returned to his home, visits his wife.  Jason Glover, according to his wife is the perfect husband. Working for a professional company, they are comfortable, and relatively newly married.  However, as DI Joanna Piercy and DS Mike Kopanski investigate they turn up information that suggests that Eve Glover doesn’t know her perfect husband all that well.

 

As in previous books I like following the investigation and how different enquires provide new leads. Some are a dead end and some bear fruit. In this instant they find themselves in a poorer part of the town, where the houses are terraced - small and poky.  An air of poverty and uneasy silence pervades. It would appear that Jadon Glover has dark secrets.  Does the truth of his disappearance lie behind the faded net curtains of these cramped dwellings?

 

Priscilla Masters has a gift for creating interesting characters, that leap of the page to you and you just want to know all about them.  I enjoy the working relationship that Joanna Piercy has with her sergeant Mike Kopanski, although it wasn’t ever thus. This is the thirteen book in the series and it has taken sometime for their working relationship to evolve to its present camaraderie.   Although she and Matthew are now together at Waterfall Cottage, tensions still exist between Joanna and Matthews daughter by his first marriage, and sadly also with her new in-laws, but as time passes, things change.  

 

A fascinating mystery that kept me guessing; and an uncomfortable look at the situations one can fall into when times are difficult. Clever and thought provoking this book is highly recommended.

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Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett



“Truth will come to sight; murder cannot be hid long.”


William Shakespeare,
The Merchant of Venice

‘A High Mortality of Doves’
by Kate Ellis

Published by Piatkus,
3 November 2016.
ISBN: 978-0-349-41308-2


The story is set in a small village of Wenfield in Derbyshire in 1919, just after the end of the First World War. In the close community everybody knows their neighbours’ business and shares in their grief and loss, and there has been a great deal of tragedy in Wenfield, as there has throughout the country. When two women from the village are murdered and left with doves stuffed into their mouths, there is an easy scapegoat in a local simpleton, but when another woman is killed while the suspect is in custody, the local police are forced to call in Scotland Yard.


Detective Inspector Albert Lincoln is relieved to leave London. Ever since the death of his young son from influenza his wife, Mary, has been depressed and grief-stricken and has shut Alfred out of her life. Alfred served in the War and is scarred and disabled due to injuries caused by an exploding shell. In Derbyshire, Alfred finds that the initial investigation has been bungled and that the local police officers are so much in awe of the most important people in the neighbourhood, the Cartwright family who live at Tarnhey Court, that they have failed to check the alibis of many suspects. Soon Alfred is sure the present spate of killings are connected to the War, to the young men who never returned and those who did come back, horribly mutilated, and were nursed at Tarnhey Court when it was lent out as a military hospital.


The novel has an interesting and very effective structure. There is a short Third Person chapter devoted to the murder victims, which allows the reader to see a little bit about their characters and how they were enticed to their deaths. This gives an immediate empathy with the victims, because they are seen alive and enduring their own sorrows. However the main part of the book is divided between the Third Person narrative of Alfred Lincoln as he investigates the crimes and the First Person narrative of Flora Winsmore, the daughter of the village doctor. Flora is an intelligent but vulnerable young woman who longs to leave Wenfield and have make own life and career nursing in a large, city hospital. She still mourns the death in action of her beloved brother, John, and is deeply sympathetic to the men who had returned from the war scarred in both body and mind, many of whom she nursed during the war, when she worked at Tarnhey Court.


This is a remarkable novel, powerful and deeply moving, which captures the terrible toll the Great War took on ordinary, working communities. It has fascinating period details, skilfully inserted, and this meticulous research provides a real insight into that dark time, almost a century ago. The plot is beautifully constructed, with clues woven in throughout the story. The main protagonists are flawed but there is an in-built empathy for their faults and failings. This is the first book featuring Alfred Lincoln; he is a strong and sympathetic protagonist and I look forward to further investigations featuring him. A High Mortality of Doves is a dark, compelling read and definitely a page-turner.

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Reviewer: Carol Westron







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