When a spinster of the parish is found bludgeoned to death in St John’s, and the church’s most valuable possession, the Lydmouth chalice, is missing, the finger of suspicion points at the new vicar, who is already beset with problems.
The glare of the police investigation reveals shabby secrets and private griefs. Jill Francis, struggling to find her feet in her new life, stumbles into the case at the beginning. But even a journalist cannot always watch from the sidelines. Soon she is inextricably involved in the Suttons’ affairs. Despite the electric antagonism between her and Inspector Richard Thornhill, she has instincts that she can’t ignore . . .
Having read the first book in this series I was looking forward to meeting police Inspector Thornhill and journalist Jill Francis once more. There is clear chemistry between them but at present this mainly takes the form of antagonism. Once again Jill is involved in the case and this time she accidentally stumbles into danger. The investigation is frustrating for the police who hope to find the culprit before Scotland Yard are involved.
At first the plot moves slowly, introducing us to several important protagonists. Although written in the third person, we are able to discover the feelings and motives of most of the characters. The novel gives us snapshots of three very different marriages; a mutually supportive Vicar, Alex Sutton and his wife, an unhappy couple with money worries, the Newtons and Jill’s hosts Charlotte and Philip Wemyss-Brown, dominated by Charlotte yet content in their partnership. Another significant character is Jemima, the spoilt young niece of the local baronet. Her flirtatious behaviour and sexual activity cause problems for more than one of the men.
The stifling atmosphere of a village at siege is increased by a spate of anonymous letters and Inspector Thornhill wonders how they connect to murder and the theft of the valuable church chalice. Action becomes intense in the last few chapters and I had just identified the murderer when his identity was revealed. I enjoyed this book even more than An Air that Kills and am very much looking forward to reading the third book.
The Mortal Sickness on Amazon UK
My Review of An Air That Kills