Published by Allison & Busby 18 July 2019. ISBN: 978-0-74902450-5 (HB)
Attending a reunion dinner at his old college, Ethelred Tressider is both surprised and pleased to find himself elevated to top table where the chairs are comfortable unlike his usual placing at one of the long shiny oak tables with hard benches. However, he realises that he is positioned with the least distinguished of the guests. On one side is the elderly wife of a long dead fellow and on the other Dr Hilary Joyner - neither liked nor respected by his peers, but still determined that his next venture will bring him the recognition he feels he deserves.
When Ethelred had been an undergraduate Hilary Joyner had been a rather natty young don. An historian, since then he had written books that had been overlooked and was currently working on another about the English monasteries. After dessert Joyner turned his attention to Ethelred and explained that he was approaching the subject of his next book with a new angle - an alleged dispute between two monastic houses in Sussex. ‘You mean the ‘buried treasury story’ said Ethelred. ‘I’m afraid Iris Munnings won’t allow any sort of access to the priory’. His words galvanised Joyner especially when it emerged that Ethelred lives in West Wittering, the village with the priory. Despite Ethelred’s excuses about the urgency of finishing his next book, and the slightness of his acquaintanceship with Iris Munnings, he finds to his horror that Joyner has decided to stay with him. As he grapples with this situation his phone beeped with an incoming text from his agent, whom he had just that day emailed ‘that a visit this weekend was out of the question’ announcing ‘coming as planned Friday.’ Elsie xxx
Dr Joyner and Elsie Thirkettle do not actually initially hit it off at once, (which is a fascinating story in itself). But soon all three are in pursuit of the missing Maltese Madonna despite the curse carried by the statue of misfortune and possibly a horrible death to any owner. Into the mix come Henry Polgreen, chairman of some obscure committee and Tertius Sly, who had for some years aspired to unseat Henry and take over the chairmanship himself. Eventually they all fetch up at Iris’s where they encounter Professor Cox much to the chagrin of Joyner. But their quest comes to an abrupt halt with Joyner’s death. Not a nice way to go.
Once again Ethelred finds himself sleuthing with Elsie. The search for both the Maltese Madonna and the murderer carries them into uncharted territory, and we meet more engaging characters along the way, before the killer is found. Clever, witty and funny. Yes, I loved this book and I am already looking forward to the next adventure of Ethelred and Elsie, even if Ethelred isn’t. Most highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett
“Truth will come to sight; murder cannot be hid long.”
William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
‘Now You See Them’ byEllie Griffiths
Published by Quercus,
3 October 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-78648-734-6 (HB)
Brighton May 1964 and Edgar Stephens is attending the funeral of an old friend a magician known as the Great Diablo, aka Stan Parks. Lost in his memories a door banging at the back of the church brings Edgar back to the present and there is Max Mephisto, looking unchanged by the last eleven years.
Much has changed for the friends who served in the war together as part of a group called the Magic Men. Edgar is now a Police Superintendent and has married his former sergeant Emma Holmes. Max is now a Hollywood movie star and is married to the film star Lydia Lamont, and they have two children. And Max’s daughter Ruby, by a former liaison with a snake charmer, has her own TV show – Ruby Magic. Catching up after the funeral the friends’ reminiscences are interrupted when Bob Willis, now DI Willis takes a call that a schoolgirl has gone missing from the boarding school Roedean, situated on the coast just outside Brighton.
The missing girl Rhonda is the daughter of the MP Sir Crispian Miles, the latter having had to wait while Edgar is fetched from the funeral is kicking up a fuss with words such as ‘It’s a disgrace. What do I pay my taxes for?’ It transpires that the delay in the school reporting the absence was occasioned by Rhonda having left a note saying she was going to London. Interviewing her friends reveal that she was besotted by the young film star Bobby Hambro and having heard he was in London had gone to see him.
As Edgar gets the investigation underway two other instance of missing girls come to light, and the investigation ‘opens up in several directions. WPC Connolly is certainly proving her worth, as Edgar says to Emma ‘she’s a bright girl’ and Emma grinds her teeth.
This is the fifth book in the series, and it was a clever move by the author to take the characters on eleven years and for the reader to learn how they had all developed. Not only is it interesting how she has moved their lives on but gives great scope for future books.
Like all good stories, on the surface things look good but underneath maybe not so perfect. Emma and Edgar now have three children, Marianne 8, Sophie 8 and Jonathan just 10 months. She has a husband she loves and lives in a large comfortable house in Brighton but is that enough for a bright woman with a taste for detection. In 1953 when a policewoman married, she had to give up her job in the police force, and Emma misses it. But her longing to be involved may impair her judgement.
Max has been offered another film, but he is at heart a magician used to his audience been amazed by his act, is Hollywood right for him? And Brighton holds memories, that he hasn’t ever let go.
As the investigation takes a dramatic turn, the police have to contend with a threat posed by a battle between the mods and rockers who are causing chaos, and a rumour that another thousand are coming down from London.
A terrific entry in this excellent series. Several tantalising hooks at the end leave me wanting to read the next one now! Highly recommended.