The World Cup Mystery (2021) by Peter Bartram

1966, and it’s time for Colin Crampton, crime reporter for the Brighton Evening Chronicle, to make a vaguely honest woman of his girlfriend Shirley Goldsmith, so he is planning on proposing on a holiday to Italy. What he wasn’t expected was his proposal to be interrupted by the need to help a young woman escape to England from her abusive husband, who just happens to be a member of the Mafia.

When they return to our green and pleasant-ish land, Colin finds himself entangled in the murder of the woman’s father, a local café owner who had just won a much-sought-after ticket to the World Cup Final. Would someone literally kill for a ticket? Or was something else behind the death of Sergio Parisi?

I’ve praised the Colin Crampton series many times before, and I see no reason to stop now. Peter Bartram’s witty narrative is always a delight, with suspicion bouncing around from person to person just as Colin bounces from peril to peril.

I would say that it is more of a crime caper/thriller than a mystery than some of the books in the series, as the killer is identified earlier than I would have expected – I was expecting a twist in the finale that never really arrived. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an exciting finale set – where else – at the World Cup Final itself, but the plot seemed a little more unlikely that most of the series.

Still, this series is always a breath of fresh air in my reading, and it really needs to be read by more people. Whether you start with this one or head back to the start with Headline Murder, you’ll certainly find something to enjoy.

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