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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Endeavour Ink, 16 November 2017. ISBN:
What makes a good historical murder mystery? Is there a secret
ingredient which makes some stand out from the crowd? For me, that ingredient
is atmosphere. Each period of history has its own, and each is unique. Some
authors of historical fiction have the knack of capturing the spirit of the
time, of making that world and its inhabitants feel real.
And atmosphere is something A
J Wright creates by the bucket load in this well researched and cleverly
plotted slice of Victorian working class life. Foggy nights in industrial
Lancashire, grim slum dwellings, gossipy corner shops and candlelit kitchens
all contribute to the ambience and are brought vividly to life, along with a
large cast to people inhabit these and plenty more locations.
The theme is one which seemed
to pervade Victorian England: the perils and rewards of seeking communion with
the dead. It was something that intrigued such luminaries as Sr Arthur Conan
Doyle; small wonder it held such sway over ordinary working folk. Young widow
Alice Goodway is making a scanty living by offering solace to her bereaved
neighbours, contacting their loved ones beyond the grave. It all appears
harmless, even reassuring, until murder is done in Alice's own house. Someone
unknown is quick to point the finger at her dark doings with an anonymous
letter, and the suggestion is planted that interfering with things we don't
understand always ends in tears.
Constable Jaggery and his
more perceptive senior officer Sergeant Brennan start to investigate – and
that's when skeletons begin to tumble out of every closet on the street, not
least that of the victim, Alice's sharp-tongued and unpopular aunt.
Each character is an
individual, from leading players such as flat-footed but soft-hearted Constable
Jaggery and fragile would-be medium Alice Goodway right down to bit parts like
the slightly sleazy Mayor and an irascible bank manager. The author weaves them
all into an intricate storyline which twists and turns in so many directions
that the final curve-ball is the biggest surprise of all.
There's also a gentle lacing
of humour, albeit of the dark kind, which leavens the tone and relieves what
could become a picture of the unremitting gloom of life in the northern back
streets in the 1890s.
The result is a satisfying,
highly readable mystery with a strong sense that the historical context was
something that might easily have happened in reality. Definitely one for the
reading list if you're a fan of historical crime.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
A. J. Wright was born in
Wigan in 1951. A graduate of Leeds University , he taught in two high
schools for a total of 36 years, also working as an O Level and GCSE English
Literature examiner for over 20 years.In
2010, he won the prestigious Dundee International Fiction Prize, with his
Victorian murder mystery novel, Act of
Murder, a whodunit set in Wigan. Elementary
Murder next in the Lancashire Detective series featuring Detective Sergeant
Michael Brennan of the Wigan Borough Police, was published in January 2017. His
latest novel, Sitting Murder, was
published November 2017.Alan is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with
books, about half of them crime fiction.