Bamford Hill, in the Cotswolds, is the site of an archaeological dig – a group of scientists are desperate to find the remains of Wulfric, a Saxon warrior. But there are frictions within the camp. Ursula Gretton had an affair with the married Dan Wollard, and he is reluctant to accept that things are over. But she is becoming more and more suspicious about what has happened to Nancy, Dan’s wife, who has disappeared.
Tensions rise when a group of travellers arrive next to the dig, but their behaviour is put into perspective when Nancy’s body is found on a local rubbish tip, rolled up in a carpet. Is Dan responsible, or did someone else in the vicinity have a motive to murder her? Civil servant Meredith Mitchell and local DI Alan Markby investigate…
Ann Granger has written a bucketload of mysteries over the years. Wikipedia lists detective fiction back to 1991, over four series, of which two are still going strong to this day. I’ve been aware of her work, this series in particular, and I’m pretty sure that once upon a time I’ve read one or two of these. But I can see why I might have forgotten about it.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with this book, to be honest. The solution to the murders is nicely complex, the cast of characters is populated with distinctive individuals – especially local nut-case Mr Finny – and it trundles along nicely from page to page. It just seemed… I don’t know, it just didn’t seem to grab me.
I picked this one up from the charity shop a while ago and was looking for something to read quickly. I must have read the first chapter of four or five different books, all of which I want to read, but for whatever reason, couldn’t settle on anything. So I grabbed something that looked an easy read, shut myself in the cellar for half an hour and got on with it.
That’s true, by the way. My cellar is slightly over the water table and floods and the pump needs to be turned on and off manually. I’d forgotten about it for a while and there was a foot of water, so it took at least twenty minutes to drain. Still, it meant undisturbed reading…
I digress. As I expected, an easy read, with, as I said, a complex plot that reminded me of something from Kate Ellis. The plot is where the similarities end though. Kate’s writing packs much more of a punch than this. To make a quick comparison, Kate’s books and this one have a kick at the end of the tale. Invariable, the reaction I get from Kate’s books is like being punched in the stomach. Here, it was just some more words on the page.
That’s what it was missing – heart. I didn’t warm to the lead characters or their relationship at all. Goodness only why Markby is so keen on someone who is perfectly happy to forget to tell him about evidence, but at least he can solve crimes based on virtually nothing. There’s a good job that there’s a confession as I don’t know how he would have proved things.
So, complex, but flat. My copy has a review from the Times that uses the word “witty” but they must have forgotten to put the words “not very” in front of it. Perfectly fine, but nothing to get excited about.