When Mattie Harris’s body is found drowned in the river, everyone in Lydmouth knows something is wrong. Mattie wasn’t a swimmer – it can’t have been a simple accident. She was drunk on the last night of her life – could she have fallen in? Or was she pushed?
Mattie was a waitress, of no importance at all, so when Lydmouth’s most prominent citizens become very anxious to establish that her death was accidental, Jill Francis’s suspicions become roused. In the meantime she is becoming ever closer to Inspector Richard Thornhill, and discovering that the living have as many secrets as the dead…
Reviewers seem to be divided as to whether this is the best or the worst of the Lydmouth Chronicles. Certainly the crimes centre round sordid actions by respected business men and young women treated like prostitutes because they have had illegitimate children. The story exposes the double standards of attitudes to sexual activity during the 1950s.
The book begins with the awful experiences of young Malcolm Pembridge in hospital and the life-changing effects of his bout of polio. Luckily his friend Bill keeps his spirits up. There are two young women who also feature in the plot, Violet Evans, struggling with the care of her new baby, Grace, under the disapproval of her father, and her friend Mattie, a stunning red-head, everyone seems to know.
In parallel we find journalist Jill Francis and DI Richard Thornhill finally giving into their passion for each other. But can there be happiness for them when Richard’s wife Edith returns with the children? Jill is a beacon of pro-active beneficence. She discovers those in trouble and makes connections the police don’t always detect. Richard refuses to kowtow to DS Williams and arrest a disreputable boy of limited intellect with only circumstantial evidence.
As the action increased and my suspicions fell on one character and then another, I really enjoyed this book and cannot fault it for its believable reflection on 1950s social history, while the significance of the fading bouquet of roses in the back of DI Thornhill’s car was not lost on me.
Where Roses Fade on Amazon UK
My review of The Air That Kills the first book in the Lydmouth Crime Series.