Joanne’s Mystery Picks

91oJX5lboILLET DARKNESS BURY THE DEAD by Maureen Jennings

It’s 1917 and twenty years since we last encountered Murdoch.  Much has happened in that twenty years: Murdoch’s wife, Amy, has died in childbirth with their second child, and his son, Jack, now twenty-one, has just returned home from France after being wounded and gassed in the war.  Murdoch is now a senior detective but finds his work of tracking down those who abuse the temperance laws unsatisfying.

There is a growing resentment against the war and the pro and con factions soon begin to clash.  However, Murdoch soon has more important things to concern himself with as a young man is found murdered and shortly after he is called to attend the suicide of another young man.  Quickly on the heels of these two deaths, two more young men are murdered and the only common denominator with their deaths is that they were all exempt from conscription.

Jennings shows the hardships of war and the toll that it takes on the soldiers and their families.  Her depiction of “shell shock” (what we refer to as PTSD, today) and its effect on its victims is chilling.  As Murdoch struggles to give Jack time to re-adjust to civilian life, he is filled with apprehension at the thought that Jack might be involved in these recent crimes.

9781635570571A SHOT IN THE DARK by Lynne Truss

A.S. Crystal, the famous theatre critic, has come to Brighton with his production of  A Shilling in the Meter.  As he and Constable Twitten wait for the performance to begin in the Theatre Royal, he begins to tell the Constable what he knows of the Aldersgate Stick-up case of 1950, which remains an unsolved case.  He was an Assistant Bank Manager at the time, and had first-hand knowledge of the crime.

But before he could utter even two words, he’s shot dead in his seat.

This murder unleashes an investigation like no other!  We are led on a merry chase, reminiscent of a British farce, a panto, and an episode from a “Carry-On” movie.  We have to contend with a bumble-headed policeman (actually two -Constable Twitten not being one of them, no matter what his name suggests); a femme fatale, and a kindly charlady.  As Twitten takes the reins to investigate, he uncovers a criminal conspiracy that goes back years.  It takes a very clever man to uncover the criminal mastermind behind these old and new crimes and Twitten is just such a man.

A deliciously funny mystery and hopefully the first in a series!

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