Jenny Langton is a woman determined to go far in the world. By a campaign of subtle influence, she finally gets a chance at the estate agents where she works, to visit a property on behalf of the firm. But when she arrives at Saunder’s Green, she develops a serious case of déjà vu. And when she touches one particular tree, she is overcome by a memory – that of a dead body lying under the tree.
It seems that Jenny is adopted and she visited the house with her real parents twenty years ago. And then her mother vanished, soon followed by her father. The assumption was always that her father killed her mother and then ran. But is it possible that the truth is stranger than that? Luckily Jenny’s best friend Betty is married to Jack Haldean, ex-fighter pilot, current mystery novelist and part-time sleuth. But when someone related to the case is killed, it seems that the murderer from twenty years ago is still on the prowl…
Dolores Gordon-Smith is one of the finest speakers at the Bodies From The Library conferences and always shows a complete love of the Golden Age of crime fiction, so it’s no surprise that her work embraces that genre so completely. You could, I suppose, argue that perhaps a little too completely in this case, as the opening did feel a lot like the premise of Sleeping Murder to me, but you’ll be pleased to know that the similarities don’t continue beyond the basic idea.
The Chessman, the preceding Haldean tale, was one of my favourite books of – checks – 2015. Didn’t realise it was that long ago, so it must have stuck with me, a lovely Golden Age serial killer tale. This is a more sedate affair but no less charming. It helps having strong lead characters, with Jack and Betty both distinctive without being saddled with trauma or irritating personality traits – even Jack’s limp barely gets a mention. There is perhaps a dearth of suspects, making the killer quite guessable but whether the reader will spot the central misdirection – I did – is another matter.
So, a charming homage to the classic detective novel. Fingers crossed it won’t be three years until the next one, but I’ve a couple of older ones on the shelf to tide me over til then. Definitely Recommended.
This e-review copy was kindly provided to me by Severn House. Many thanks.