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Monday 2 November 2015

‘Murder in the Blood’ by Lesley Cookman

Published by Accent Press,
18 June
ISBN: 978-1-78375-694-0

Libby Sarjeant is on holiday in Erzugan, a remote, coastal village in Turkey. Libby is accompanied by her 'significant other', Ben Wilde, and her friends Peter Parker, Harry Price, and Fran and Guy Wolfe. Over the past few years Libby and Fran have been involved in investigating several murders. Their amateur detective interest started because of Fran's psychic gifts but their involvement has always been driven by Libby's insatiable curiosity. Away from England, where nobody knows about Libby and Fran's past involvement with suspicious deaths, their nearest and dearest trust that they will have a peaceful, crime-free holiday.

This hope wavers when Fran has one of her 'moments' and has the feeling of somebody drowning. Soon after this, on a boat trip, they are present when the body of a drowned man is discovered. The victim is identified as Alec Wilson, an Englishman who has lived in Turkey for some years. The Turkish police wish to write off his death as an accident, but Libby and Fran encourage other British people resident in Erzugan to contact the British consulate. Another death occurs and Commander Johnny Smith of the Metropolitan Police appears on the scene. Smith is an unconventional officer who seems to feel the rules do not apply to him, and he asks Libby and Fran to help him search the second victim's house. Despite this encouragement, Libby and Fran are less concerned with tracking down the murderer than they are with finding the birth mother of Alec Wilson, who had only recently made contact with him. Both women feel that she deserves to know what has happened to her son.

Back in England, having failed to locate Alec Wilson's birth mother, Libby and Fran intend to put all thoughts of murder behind them. However a series of coincidences keep them in the frame and, when violent death follows them to England, some of their friends and loved ones find themselves under suspicion of involvement with the crime. Fortunately, DCI Ian Connell of the Kent Police is an old friend and he stands by them. These new developments make Libby and Fran determined to discover the truth. This leads them into danger, as it so often has before, but as they probe into the motives for the murders they unveil a complex and wicked web of criminal activity.

Murder in the Blood is the fifteenth in the Libby Sarjeant cosy crime series and it is fun to follow the old gang into new, foreign territory, for the first part of the book. The Libby Sarjeant investigations are fuelled by copious amounts of red wine and tea. They are peopled by a large community of regular characters, which grows with every book, as more people join 'Libby's Loonies,' the name her friends have given to those people who have been drawn into Libby's investigations.

This is a thoroughly engaging book, with a complex plot, superb descriptions of settings, and an eccentric, engaging cast of characters. The detective story in the book stands alone, however, for readers who are not acquainted with the series, it would be better to start much nearer the beginning of the series. As the author warns at the start of the book, Murder in the Blood links with several previous books and therefore contains spoilers. Indeed, just by noting which characters appear in this book, it is possible to eliminate several suspects from earlier investigations.

Murder in the Blood is a thoroughly enjoyable read, with a likeable cast of characters with whom it is always fun to spend time.
Published by
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Lesley Cookman started writing almost as soon as she could read, and filled many Woolworth's exercise books with pony stories until she was old enough to go out with boys. Since she's been grown up, following a varied career as a model, air stewardess and disc jockey, she's written short fiction and features for a variety of magazines, achieved an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales, taught writing for both Kent Adult Education and the WEA and edited the first Sexy Shorts collection of short stories from Accent Press in aid of the Breast Cancer Campaign.  The Libby Sarjeant series is published by Accent Press, who also published her book, How to Write a Pantomime, with a foreword by Roy Hudd.   Lesley is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers' Association, and Mystery People.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Her second book About the Children was published in May 2014.

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