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Monday, 7 October 2019

‘Death in the Cove, by Pauline Rowson

Published by Fathom Rowmark,
26 September 2019.
ISBN: 978-0-99288895-4 (PB)

Recently promoted Inspector Alun Ryga of Scotland Yard is sent to Portland Island in Dorset following the discovery of the body of a man, dressed in a pinstriped suit, in called Church Ope Cove, a secluded bay.  This is Ryga’s first major investigation, and he is keen to prove his worth.

Along with the local Sergeant Jack Daniels, Ryga visits the mortuary. Although having died from a stab wound, on initial investigation the dead man shows no sign of a brutal attack, and Ryga surmises that he did not appear to have put up a fight against his killer.

The body had been discovered by war photographer Eva Paisley, who had been out in the early morning taking photographs and used by virtue of her job to the sight of dead bodies took photographs of the body in situ.  

The story is set in England in 1950, a country still recovering from the war and subject to rationing. Also, to many old-fashioned attitudes as when Ryga tells the local police Inspector Crispin that although because of the tide they had to move the body they luckily have the photographs Eva Paisley took. He remarks that he doesn’t think her snaps will be any use.  Ryga on the other hand places his trust in Eva despite Inspector Crispin’s misgivings.  It is to be hoped that he is not disappointed.

Settling in at the Quarryman Arms, Ryga meets landlady Sonia Shepherd, an attractive woman in her early thirties. As the story progresses Ryga, a thoughtful, observant man, is sure that Sonia has something to tell him, but each time she seems to get near it something happens, and the moment passes.  Before long there is a second murder.

This is the first book in a new series, and one I will be avidly following.  The story is well-plotted and like a lot of good crime fiction reaches back into the past for the solution. I own to being particularly drawn to this period of what is of course now history.  But I was a teenager in the 1950’s and Pauline Rowson captures the period perfectly and reminded me of so many things that I had forgotten.   When a suspect is challenged that he seems to know more than he should, he said he read it in the newspaper, but no newspaper can be found.  Check in the lavatory suggests Ryga. It may be hanging there as toilet paper.

The clues are there, but I followed the red herring and didn’t guess the murderer.  Will you?  Don’t miss this first book in what is sure to be a first-class series.  Whilst the murderer is unmasked there are left some tempting hooks for the next book.  Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

Pauline Rowson was born and raised in Portsmouth and still lives on nearby Hayling Island. She has used her home town for a series of tense crime novels built around the personality of DC Andy Horton. Her books display an accurate knowledge of police procedure linked to a gift for vivid story telling and a love of the sea. Her first novel Tide of Death was published in 2006. Then came In Cold Daylight and In For The Kill, followed by Deadly Waters, Blood on the Sand and then Footsteps on the shore. It is fact that Rowson is an author hugely admired by so many overseas readers, from the United States to China. She deserves so much more recognition in her own country. That must happen soon.

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