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Published by Endeavour Press, 12 September 2016. ASIN:
headmistress Harriet Quigley is happily settled in the village of Locksley,
near Winchester, and her cousin Sam Hathaway lives in the cottage adjoining
hers. Sam and Harriet have been like brother and sister all their lives, but
this does not mean that Sam is going to accept without protest when Harriet
signs him up for a weekend away with a newly-established local art group.
Fiona, the secretary of the art group, is an old friend of Harriet and has told
her how worried she is that the chairman, Linzi Bray, has put the group in debt
by arranging this weekend at a newly opened B&B. Many of the members cannot
afford to attend and the club will be liable to pay for any unfilled places.
Harriet wants to help Fiona and thinks a weekend away in comfort will be good
for both of them. Despite his protests, Sam soon agrees, motivated by his
strong sense of community and the promise of Full English breakfasts.
The more Harriet hears about Linzi
Bray the more intrigued she feels. From what she is told, at first meeting
Linzi appears to be charming, sweet and vulnerable, but as soon as she gets her
claws into a victim she is demanding, selfish and manipulative. As well as
this, Linzi is beautiful, elegant and seductive and many women suspect her of
trying to ensnare their husbands, and in some cases succeeding. Fiona resents
the way she charmed Fiona’s teenage son, but he is now away at university and
out of Linzi’s clutches, and Fiona is a kind, conscientious woman who has
remained Linzi’s confidante. Fiona confides in Harriet that Linzi has told her
that she is being stalked, although Fiona is uncertain whether this true or
Linzi’s imagination, or even her desire to dramatise herself.
The people who gather for the art
weekend are a mixed bunch, several of whom are damaged and vulnerable. When
Linzi arrives she is just as superficially charming and manipulative as she had
been portrayed, but Harriet is a very shrewd woman and, as soon as she meets
Linzi, she is sure that Linzi is afraid.
The weekend progresses and Harriet
and Sam actually enjoy the art classes they had been so doubtful about
attending. Many of the people attending forge new friendships, gain self-confidence
and make positive decisions about their future, but Linzi grows more
out-of-control and vicious. It is then that death strikes and it seems almost
certain the killer is somebody sharing the art weekend.
This is the third book in the series
featuring Harriet Quigley and Sam Hathaway. It is an engaging series with
likeable protagonists. I particularly like the way Harriet uses her
headmistress skills to deal with bad behaviour, but at times she feels guilty
as she realises she has inadvertently slipped into the ‘bossy schoolmarm’ role.
The plot is skilfully unfolded, with a gentle but persistent growth of tension.
This is not a ‘body on the first page’ book, it is a study of how one person’s
determination to control and manipulate leads, inevitably, to a violent
outcome. The art class background was both interesting and authentic. Above
all, both Harriet and Sam, and many of the other characters were engaging, so
that the reader cared what happened to them. The Art of Murder is an
easy-to-read and enjoyable book and one that I would recommend.
Reviewer: Carol Westron
Nicola Sladewas brought up in Poole, Dorset. She wrote children’s
stories when her three children were growing up, moving onto short stories for
several national magazines. Winning a story competition in Family Circle
galvanised her into writing seriously and since then her stories and articles
have been commissioned regularly. Scuba
Dancin, a romantic comedy was her first published novel. After that she
wrote a series of Victorian mysteries: Murder
Most Welcome published by Robert
Hale Ltd, 2008, featuring Charlotte Richmond, a young widow in the 1850s. Nicola has a second series featuring former headmistress, Harriet Quigley, and her
sidekick and cousin, Rev Sam Hathaway. Nicola, her
husband and their cat live near Winchester in Hampshire.
out more about Nicola atblog:www.nicolaslade.wordpress.com
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 latest book The Fragility
of Poppies was published 10 June 2016.