As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Published by Severn House, 1 December 2015.
Sussex village of Croxton Ferriers has always been a sleepy place where nothing
exciting occurs, but suddenly it has become a hotbed of crime. The violence
starts when Sir Matthew and Lady Vardon are attacked on their own terrace and
Lady Vardon's diamonds are stolen. Shortly after this, Sir Matthew has a stroke
and subsequently dies. Soon after Sir Matthew's death, his chauffeur, Ryle
provokes Edward Castradon, a local solicitor, and there is a brawl in the
centre of the village. Worse is still to come. Isabelle Stanton and Sue
Castradon turned up at the church to arrange the flowers and discover a corpse,
mutilated beyond recognition, in one of the church cupboards.
Jack Haldean is Isabelle's cousin
and a friend of the local senior police officer, Superintendent Ashley. Jack is
a successful writer of detective fiction and a respected amateur sleuth. Ashley
invites Jack to join the investigation and it is Jack's sharp eyes that notice
a chess piece in the cupboard. 'It was a black knight, heavy for its size,
carved out of marble.'
Soon the black chess pieces become
horribly familiar, accompanied by sinister notes from a killer who signs
himself, 'The Chessman.' Sir Matthew's heir, Thomas Vardon, returns from
America to set his inheritance in order, and it becomes clear that members of
the Vardon family are in peril from this unidentified madman. Edward Castradon
is Ashley's main suspect: he has an exceptionally bad temper and, having been
scarred in the war, he is unable to believe that his beautiful wife still loves
him, which makes him jealous of any man who admires Sue. Also, there there has
been long-term bad feeling between Castradon and the murder victims. However
there is insufficient evidence to arrest Castradon and the death toll continues
The Chessman is the ninth book featuring Jack Haldean and the series
goes from strength to strength. This book has a genuine Golden Age feel to it:
a complex plot, with skilfully placed clues, several cunning red herrings and a
fine range of lively characters, including a handsome, charming and thoroughly
likeable hero. As well as an intriguing murder mystery, The Chessman
also has a more serious undertone, with the reminder that the Great War may
have ended in 1918, but, for many men and their loved ones, the mental and
physical suffering continued for long afterwards.
Although part of a series, this book
stands alone, as do all of the Jack Haldean books. It is a exceptionally good
read and one which I would wholeheartedly recommend.
Reviewer: Carol Westron
Dolores Gordon-Smithlives in a
small town near Manchester with her husband, five children, three cats and two
dogs. She has always been fascinated by the Twenties. The four years
of the First World War had ripped away the old securities and expectations and,
when it was over, things were never the same again. Everything changed, from
politics to fashions. Skirts rose to the knee and women cropped, bobbed or
shingled their hair. Music took a new direction; listen to the clarinet solo of
Rhapsody in Blue, the urbane, polished sophistication of Cole Porter and Noel
Coward, the wistful longing of Jerome Kern and the “crazy rhythm” of Jazz.Her three favourite writer in popular fiction
are Agatha Christie, P.G. Wodehouse and Dorothy L. They reflect the classic
detective story, where an ordered world is plunged into chaos and then
re-invented, The perfect vehicle to celebrate the energy of this brave new
Carol Westronis 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.