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Tuesday 16 May 2017

'Falling Creatures' by Katherine Stansfield

Published by Allison & Busby,
23 March 2017.
ISBN 978-0-7490-2141-2

In Cornwall in 1844 there was a murder.    The victim was Charlotte Dymond who was working at a lonely moorland farm near Jamaica Inn.   Her companion Shilly wants to find out who killed Charlotte because of her love for the strange and sometimes cruel girl.  Shilly meets a Mr. Williams who is some sort of detective and also someone with secrets.  Together they try to retrace Charlotte's movements for she disappeared several days before her body was found.  

Shilly is a good witness to Charlotte's secrets and, in particular, her peculiar powers.  A picture of  the hard life of farm workers in that era with little in the way of mechanical aids soon forms. The atmosphere on the isolated farm and the behaviour of the individuals who live there can be seen through Shilly's eyes.  The superstitious attitudes that Shilly shows reflect the stories told in such places in that era.

Mr Williams helps to form a possible defence for the person accused of the murder and Shilly in her grief strives to help him with her memories of her friend and her feelings that Charlotte wants to tell her things about her own death.

This is a Gothic tale with a swirling mist of speculation surrounding the mysterious Charlotte Dymond.    Shilly and Mr Williams do make deductions leading to their explanation of events.  As this was a notorious real life murder without a satisfactory explanation of events this book provides very interesting reading.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer 
This is a second book by Katherine Stansfield.

Katherine Stansfield grew up on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. She moved to Wales in 2002 to study at Aberystwyth University where she worked as a lecturer for a number of years. Her first novel, The Visitor, was published by Parthian in 2013. It went on to win the 2014 Holyer an Gof Prize for Fiction.
Her poems have been widely published in magazines and anthologies. Her first book of poems, Playing House, was published by Seren in October 2014. It includes the poem 'Canada' which was Poem of the Week in The Guardian online. Katherine also reviews contemporary fiction and poetry.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

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