In this sixth Brighton mystery by Elly Griffiths, the plot centres on the role of women. Bert Billington, the murder victim, had shown little respect for the women in his life so there are several possible female suspects. Having little faith in the police force, his flamboyant wife, Verity Malone, decides to employ a team of female detectives, Emma and Sam. The only problem is that the talented Emma Holmes is married to the Police Superintendent, Edgar Stephens. Relishing the opportunity to return to crime fighting, she is glad to escape her life as a wife and mother occasionally, and she is lucky that Edgar supports her in this.
Soon the private detectives and the local police are co-operating on the case and Emma takes a special interest in young policewoman, Meg Connolly. When the two women need to hire a car, they refuse to give up after being told to ask their husband’s permission to do so. Meg is an excellent driver, but as a policewoman in the mid-1960s she is not allowed to drive on duty.
As in the previous books of the series we enter the world of show business and catch up with Max Mephisto, now a successful film actor with a glamorous Hollywood wife. The investigation harks back to the pre-war world of Variety when young women were often taken advantage of by the male stars.
While Emma’s partner, Sam, briefly returns to her former occupation as a journalist, we are reminded of the horrifying case of the Moors Murders, so it is a relief that this Brighton mystery is less upsetting. I enjoyed seeing Emma proving herself as a skilled investigator once more, but I preferred the earlier volumes when she was able to work alongside Edgar.
The Midnight Hour on Amazon UK
My Review of the first 3 books in The Brighton Mysteries