Since solving a spate of murders, life has been rather quiet for Judith Potts. Dividing her time between her friends, her crosswords – both solving and setting – and swimming naked in the Thames, battling the occasional swan, the most puzzling thing she had come across were some odd clues in the crossword in the local paper. But out of the blue, Judith is contacted by Sir Peter Bailey, a local bigwig, on the eve of his wedding. Judith is asked to come to the wedding-eve party as Sir Peter has something to discuss with her – something that has him scared.
Intrigued, and not just by the likelihood of some free drink, Judith, Becks and Suzie all show up to the ceremony, only for events to be interrupted by a crash from inside the house. Once the door to Sir Peter’s study is broken down, he is found crushed to death beneath a cabinet. It must have been an accident – the only key to the very solid door was in Sir Peter’s pocket. But Judith is not convinced – and soon the three women are on their second hunt for a murderer. There are only two problems – no one could have got into the study and everyone with a motive has an ironclad alibi…
Sometimes, you need a good book. I’ve got a lot of stuff going on at the moment, some exciting, some draining… and sometimes I need the escape of a good book. When I’ve a lot on, it takes something special to keep my attention. And an elderly naked woman fighting a swan inside the first chapter certainly did that…
I knew this was the book I needed. I’ve loved all of Robert Thorogood’s mysteries, whether they were the Death In Paradise continuations or the first Marlow Murder Club. Really well written mysteries in the cozy vein with those rarest of rare things… clues. There’s a mention in the “About The Author” bit that the first mystery that Robert read was Peril At End House, and it sort of shows. That is one of my favourite of Dame Agatha’s books, with some excellent clue placement and a nicely complex-but-simple plot. Which, as I mentioned before, I solved when I first read it as a young Puzzle Medical Student…
I didn’t solve this one. There are so many bits and pieces of plot dangled in front of the reader and yet I never quite saw the big picture of what was going on. Despite there being a relatively small pool of suspects to look at – it expands a little as the book goes on, but there’s only about six or seven possible murderers. Belton Cobb would be proud of the small circle, but then would be embarrassed by how Thorogood manages them much more deftly than Cobb ever did. There’s a strong sense of humour throughout the tale, but one that enhances rather than distracts from the narrative. All in all, it kept a smile on my face constantly while I was reading it.
This is a book that anyone should enjoy. The characters are just about on the right side of reality to be believable while still being quirky enough to entertain when the plot slows at times. I was particularly amused by Becks’ middle-class-savant skills, going all Sherlock Holmes when working out where the olive oil was hidden in a kitchen or identifying the make of a wellington boot. The characters are such fun that at one point late in the narrative, I was genuinely a bit upset at one development. Luckily… no, spoilers.
I worry a little that people who have read other books that may resemble this set-up and have dismissed it as part of the same genre might pass this one by. I strongly recommend that if that’s you, dear reader, and you’ve given up on a certain Murder Club, give this one a try instead. Robert Thorogood was inspired by Agatha Christie and he was clearly paying attention…
Death Comes To Marlow is out in hardback and ebook on January 5th 2023 from HQ. Many thanks for the review e-copy via NetGalley.
And it’s set in the village (I hesitate to call it a town) where my son goes to school, so I love reading about the places I know.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I think what I generally don’t like about most of the cozies that I’ve read is that they’re light on suspense and a reason to care about what’s happening, feeling too sitcom-ish for my taste. This one seems to buck that trend, based on your review, so I might give it a go.
Start with the first one…
Thank you, PD, it’s an honour to be reviewed on your blog. x R
I think I’m very much an outlier here in that I wasn’t that thrilled with the first one. There were a couple of issues but the main one was lack of clear character delineation in the three protagonists. Yeah, I know they all had their “quirks” and personality traits but in terms of voice, they all seemed to sound alike. Without speech attribution tags, I would lose track of who was talking and given their radical differences in age and circumstances, that just didn’t ring true for me.