The sun rises on a lush stone courtyard, where birds sing and ferns shade an ancient, burbling fountain. But in the fountain’s murky depths, a young woman’s body grows cold…
Samantha Seabrook – an ambitious young woman with a chequered past – is found drowned in the ornamental fountain of a locked Cambridge courtyard. The only clue is an antique silver chain wound tightly around her throat.
It’s local reporter Tara Thorpe’s job to discover what happened to Miss Seabrook – but the case becomes personal when she learns that Samantha had been receiving threatening messages… rather like the one that landed on the doorstep of Tara’s cottage the night the woman died.
Together with Detective Inspector Garstin Blake, Tara follows a lead that takes her to the deep and watery fens on the outskirts of the city. But there’s something Tara can’t quite admit to Blake about her past – and it could make all the difference to whether they crack the case before the killer strikes again.
On the night Tara Thorpe is spooked by a hooded figure watching her as she enters her lonely cottage set on a common on the outskirts of Cambridge, she discovers she was not the only young woman to be threatened. Her report to the police about a personal letter, accompanied by a noosed doll, causes DI Garstin Blake to come early next morning because another woman has been murdered and she too had received a doll with a noose around its neck. The murder victim is Professor Samantha Seabrook, a successful Cambridge academic and Tara has just been instructed by the editor of the Magazine she works for, to cover the story.
The novel has been introduced by a prologue describing the suicide by hanging of a woman, but this was 20 years earlier so how does this connect to threats against two young women today? Tara already lives with fear from the memories of a long-term stalker, who was never caught, so she has very little trust in the police. However, DI Blake seems different. He treats her like an intelligent adult. He warns her not to take risks but asks her to share her information about Samantha Seabrook. While Tara deals with demons from her past as well as immediate danger, Blake juggles a difficult murder investigation with a collapsing marriage. But their co-operation helps move the action forward as they share evidence and mutual respect.
The reader learns that Samantha was a daring, intelligent woman who rubbed most of her colleagues up the wrong way. Like Tara, she was born to an actress mother, but Samantha’s mother had died young. There are many possible culprits and tension increases as Tara frequently puts herself into perilous situations. The complex plot is gradually revealed but suspense is maintained, and we fear for Tara’s safety while noting that Blake and Tara are becoming close. A superb stand-alone murder mystery and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.
Murder on the Marshes on Amazon UK
Clare Chase writes classic mysteries. Her aim is to take readers away from it all via some armchair sleuthing in atmospheric locations.
Her debut novel was shortlisted for Novelicious’s Undiscovered Award, as well as an EPIC award post-publication, and was chosen as a Debut of the Month by LoveReading. Murder on the Marshes (Tara Thorpe 1) was shortlisted for an International Thriller Writers award.
Like her heroines, Clare is fascinated by people and what makes them tick. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked in settings as diverse as Littlehey Prison and the University of Cambridge, in her home city. She’s lived everywhere from the house of a lord to a slug-infested flat and finds the mid-terrace she currently occupies a good happy medium.
As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books.
You can find Clare’s website and blog at www.clarechase.com