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Wednesday 5 June 2019

‘The Playground Murders’ by Lesley Thomson

Published by Head of Zeus,
25 April 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-78669724-0 (HB)

This is the seventh novel in Thomson’s popular The Detective’s Daughter Series. Stella Darnell runs a cleaning agency, but she also solves murders with the help of her boyfriend Jack Harmon. Stella is approached by a young woman who asks her to prove her father recently convicted of killing his mistress is innocent. She believes the real killer is her mother who forty years earlier, at the age of ten, murdered two six-year-olds at a local playground.   

Central to the story is impact of the earlier murders on the lives of the of all those connected with the case, not just the killer’s childhood friends and her family but Stella’s father, the detective who worked the case. The only person who seems to have survived the trauma and put the past behind to lead a normal life is the killer herself. Released after a brief period of child detention, Danielle Hindell was given a new name and a new identity. She marries Christopher Philips a well-to-do antiquarian running his own business.

This is a time slip novel. Many of the earlier chapters take us back 1980 where we meet the children in the playground. From the very beginning, Danielle’s dominant personality is very much in evidence. She is bright, articulate and very adept at getting her own way not only with children in the playground but manages to charm Terry Darnell leading the investigation into the deaths of first Robbie, presumed an accident and soon after, the murder of Sara.    

Perhaps young Danielle who is keen to be Terry’s assistant in the investigation, has a bewitching effect on him because Terry is now separated from wife and estranged from his own daughter Stella who is around the same age.

Stella’s investigation into the murder of Rachel Cator, Christopher Philips’ mistress in 2019 takes her to those early times and for her it is also an emotional journey as she learns more about the father she never really knew.

This is a dark complex novel with many twists and turns that will keep you turning the page. It has a large cast of characters and it takes a while to get to grips with who is who all of which adds to the air of uncertainty that keep the emotions on edge. It’s a story of jealousy, betrayal and menace where no one remains unscathed.
Reviewer: Judith Cranswick

Lesley Thomson was born in 1958 and brought up in Hammersmith, West London, grew up in London. She went to Holland Park Comprehensive and graduated from Brighton University in 1981 and moved to Sydney, Australia.. Her novel A Kind of Vanishing won The People's Book Prize in 2010. Her latest novel The Detective's Daughter is a number one bestseller. Ghost Girl the second in the The Detective's Daughter series is out in May 2014. Lesley combines writing with teaching creative writing at West Dean College. She lives in Lewes with her partner and is working on a new novel featuring Stella Darnell.

Judith Cranswick was born and brought up in Norwich. She wrote her first novel (now languishing in the back of a drawer somewhere) when her two children were toddlers, but there was little time for writing when she returned to work teaching Geography in a large comprehensive. It was only after leaving her headship that she was able to take up writing again in earnest. Judith teaches Tai Chi, and line dancing, yoga, Pilates and Zumba. Her other hobbies include reading and travelling. She is lucky enough to be a cruise lecturer. You can read some of her adventures – the Ups and Downs of Being a Cruise Lecturer on her September 2014 blog on her home page. Judith’s latest book is Blood Flows South to read a review click on the title

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