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Monday 10 July 2017

‘Death Scene’ by Jane A. Adams

Published by Severn House,
1 July 2017.
ISBN: 978-0-7278-8703-0

The year is 1928 and old prejudices against young women making their own way in the world are still prevalent. This means that when lovely young actress Cissie Rowe is discovered dead in her seaside bungalow in Shoreham-on-Sea, the opinionated doctor who is summoned to examine her body assumes that she has committed suicide. Although he concedes, if the authorities wish to be charitable, it might be possible to argue that her death was an accident. Fortunately, the young police constable who is also attending the death, is more observant and less prejudiced and the questions he raises cause Cissie’s death to be investigated as a murder. Detective Chief Inspector Henry Johnstone and Detective Sergeant Mickey Hitchens are Scotland Yard detectives who are experts in murder and they are sent to Shoreham-on-Sea to investigate Cissie’s death.

In the film industry, Cissie was a rising star and, as she was one of the few actresses that had a beautiful speaking voice, she should have been able to transfer to the new Talking Pictures that are beginning to emerge and threaten the careers of many Silent Movie stars. The detectives’ investigations take them to the film studio where Cissie worked and, at first it seems that nobody has a bad word to say about her. However, when Johnstone and Hitchens probe deeper they discover that not all is as it seems in Cissie’s life. Soon the detectives realise that the truth behind Cissie’s death may lie in her workplace, but it could also have originated in her foreign childhood, or it may be found in far wealthier and more influential circles than she moved in at the film studio. Fortunately, Henry’s sister, Cynthia, is married to a wealthy industrialist and has a town house in nearby Worthing. Cynthia and her husband welcome Henry and Mickey into their home and Cynthia provides them with useful information about the people they need to investigate.

Another brutal murder occurs and it becomes clear the killer is searching for something and will not end the violence until Henry and Mickey identify and capture the ruthless murderer.

Death Scene is the second in the series of 1920s novels featuring Henry Johnstone and I was delighted that the author supplied a lot more personal information about Henry’s background, which  made him a more engaging and sympathetic character. This was skilfully inserted so that it added to the power of the novel without slowing the pace and offered a heart-warming view of Henry as a beloved and loving brother and uncle. I would recommend Death Scene without reservation, the central characters are very engaging, the plot and pace good and the period detail authentic and fascinating. It is a page-turner.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Jane A Adams was born in Leicestershire, where she still lives. She has a degree in Sociology, and has held a variety of jobs including lead vocalist in a folk rock band. She enjoys pen and ink drawing, martial arts and her ambition is to travel the length of the Silk Road by motorbike. Her first book, The Greenway, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Award in 1995 and for the Author's Club Best First Novel Award. Jane writes several series.  Her first series featured Mike Croft. Several books featuring DS Ray Flowers. Seven titles featuring blind Naoimi Blake, and six titles featuring Rina Martin. Her most ret series is set between the two World Wars and featuring Detective Inspector Henry Johnstone and his sergeant, Micky Hitchens. Jane has also written several standalone novels. She is married with two children.

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 latest book The Fragility of Poppies was published 10 June 2016.

Read a review of Carol’s latest book
The Fragility of Poppies

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