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Sunday, 27 October 2019

‘The Love Detective: Next Level’ by Angela Dyson

Published by Matador,
10 September. 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-83859057-4 (PB)

This is light-hearted, fun read that has the reader smiling if not laughing out loud from the start. In the same vein as Janet Evanovich’s madcap Stephanie Plumb, Ann Granger’s Fran Varady and a much younger version of MC Beaton’s Agatha Raison, Clarry Pennhaligan has the habit of getting herself into some perilous scrapes.   

Waitress Clarry Pennhaligan has earned herself a reputation as an amateur detective. She is hired by the formidable Diana Maitland to investigate her daughter’s new friends. Mrs Maitland is concerned that they are have a bad effect on the impressionable Vanessa who has become very secretive. The group of women she is now associating with appear to belong to an alternative religious cult interested in folklore and paganism. Finding it hard to pay her bills, Clarry reluctantly agrees to take on the case.

Diana Maitland proposes that Clarry attends an anniversary party that she is hosting posing as a friend of her eldest daughter and use the opportunity to meet and befriend Vanessa. The introduction doesn’t go to well and only when Clarry discovers Vanessa trying to escape the party and helps her evade her mother’s clutches do they form a tentative bond. This eventually leads to Clarry attending a meeting of the ‘Women’s Group.’ Before long, it becomes obvious that there is something more sinister going on than just a collection of modern New Age hippies worshipping the goddess. All the women are being encouraged to contribute generously to the building of a Wellbeing Centre. 

Learning that Vanessa is about to come into a considerable legacy, Clarry’s suspicions are roused. She sets about trying to discover more about the group’s members, especially Sarah, who manages the group’s not inconsiderable finances. Aided by her elderly aunt Fran, Clarry breaks into Sarah’s shop late at night and the two barely escape by climbing over the rooftops.   

There is nothing two-dimensional about the characters. In addition to Clarry herself and the plucky go-getting elderly Fran, I particularly like her mates in the restaurant where she works as a waitress. The rugby club evening is something I will remember for some time and it’s on that occasion she meets Ed who I’m sure will feature in the next book in this series.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and have no reservations recommending it to readers who are looking for an easy read with wit and humour mixed with excitement and intrigue.
Reviewer: Judith Cranswick  

Angela Dyson, creator of the of the Clarry Pennhaligan mysteries, also write a series, The Fortunes of Sally Forth, featuring a woman who has swapped London Living for Country Loving - something she has recently done herself. Her play, The Gift, premiered at The White Bear Theatre, London. She also won ITV's This Morning's national short story award.

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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