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Saturday 5 January 2019

‘Little Honour’ by Penny Freedman

Published by Matador,
28 October 2018.
ISBN: 978-1-789015-29-4 (PB) 

Gina Gray is a woman of many parts. She teaches English Language at SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies; she has two grown up daughters, Ellie and Annie, who believe her main role is to supply help on demand; and she has a turbulent on/off relationship with Detective Chief Inspector David Scott who also calls on her expertise when he feels the need.  When we first meet Gina all three areas of her life have conspired to make simultaneous demands on her. Things are further complicated because she is also trying to sort out the small, basement flat in Bloomsbury that she has just bought.

Gina’s elder daughter Ellie and her husband Ben come to stay whilst their four-year old son, Nico, has major heart surgery at the nearby Great Ormond Street Hospital for children.  Her younger, lawyer daughter, Annie, with whom Gina has a difficult relationship, demands that she attends rehearsals of a production of Measure for Measure that Gray’s Inn and other local barristers’ chambers are putting on. And DCI David Scott wants her opinion on a letter he has received about a young Indian woman who has been strangled near Gina’s new flat.  To top it all Gina is due to give a paper and appear on an expert panel at a major conference at University College in a few days’ time.

Gina attempts to meet everybody’s needs whilst still keeping her own affairs on track.  David, with whom her relationship is currently “off” is fed breakfast and then presented with an electric drill to facilitate the erection of blinds, mirrors etc that will help to get her flat straight before she agrees to give an opinion on the letter, he wants her to read. Then, when she goes to see Annie rehearsing, she finds that Annie knew the murdered girl who worked in chambers near Gray’s Inn. Several others involved in the production are also local lawyers who had known the murdered girl. Gina is immediately provided with a rich source of suspects - and possibly romance?

In-between looking after Ellie and Ben and worrying about Nico, attending her conference, arguing with David, and doing a little sleuthing, Gina finds time to help Ellie’s ten-year old daughter, Freda who has been sent to stay in the country with her grandfather (Gina’s ex-husband) and his second wife, Lavender.  Whilst there Freda does a little sleuthing of her own when the family dog goes missing. Her adventures provide an interesting, though not necessarily relaxing, diversion from the main story. 

Little Honour is book six in the Gina Gray and David Scott series.  I had not read any of the earlier books, but this did not present any problems. I imagine that Gina and David have happily squabbled their way through the series, and that between them criminals are exposed and brought to justice. Given the demands made on Gina it is perhaps not surprising that much of the text is given over to Gina’s hectic domestic situation. You have to admire her as she valiantly juggles her various roles whilst somehow managing to remain a normal, if hyperactive, human being. All in all, a thoroughly diverting and enjoyable read.
Reviewer Angela Crowther.

Penny Freedman grew up in Surrey and studied Classics at St Hilda's College Oxford. Since then she has been, at various times, a teacher, a theatre critic, an actor and director, a counsellor, a mother and a university lecturer. She has written five previous crime novels featuring Gina Gray and her granddaughter, Freda, the heroines of Little Honour.   
Angela Crowther is a retired scientist.  She has published many scientific papers but, as yet, no crime fiction.  In her spare time Angela belongs to a Handbell Ringing group, goes country dancing and enjoys listening to music, particularly the operas of Verdi and Wagner.

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