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Thursday, 14 November 2019

‘Quick off the Mark' by Susan Moody

Published by Severn House,
1 March 2018.
ISBN: 978-1-84751-760-9 (PB)

 Alex Quick, a former police detective now an art historian is lingering over a cup of tea at the breakfast table and pondering on her single status, and her one or two unsuccessful romantic encounters following the demise of her marriage to Jack the Love Rat, when her reverie is broken by a frenzied banging at her front door.  Opening the door reveals Dimsie Drayton, a drama Queen to the core, who immediately begins sobbing.  Eventually, informing Alex that her brother Tristan is dead having been found in a field - tortured – his knees smashed, and bits cut off his body and castrated.   Alex is dumfounded, Tristan had always appeared the most harmless of men, languid in a particularly English way.  Who would want to harm him, let alone carve the word ‘Cheat’ across his chest?

Reluctantly, Alex agrees to Dimsie’s entreaties try to find the killer of her beloved brother.  Although a long standing friend of the family Alex had only a surface knowledge of Tristan Huber, but as she talks to his business acquaintances, friends and even his family, it becomes clear that people are not too keen to talk about Tristan and that he was not what he appeared to be.  With very little to go on Alex visits the rural area to see the crime scene, only a short walk from the house of Major Horrocks who had found Tristan’s body or rather his dog had.  Major Horrocks is a stereotype of what you would expect for a Major Horrocks, but definitely a sweetie. He explained that Marlowe wasn’t his dog but his neighbour’s Nell Roscoe who went into the hospital and never returned. Despite her enquires Major Horrocks can tell her no more and Alex heads for home. Passing Sam’s bookshop, she decides to call in and unburden.  To cheer her up Sam suggests a drink with his neighbour Edward.  But while enjoying a glass of wine Edward takes a call informing him of the murder of his friend Kevin Fuller.

As the body count rises Alex is no further forward, but as she continues to investigate several things seem to her a little off. Like the affable con-man about whom she knows nothing but accidentally runs into in a different situation which sparks her interest.   And still conscious of her need to meet people she joins the drama group, but all may not be what it seems even here.

This is a true mystery, surrounded by well-fleshed out characters you want to know all about and would so like to meet.  I own to being completely baffled right to the end.  And if you want a murder mystery, then look no further this one will keep you on your toes. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

Susan Moody was born in Oxford is the principal nom de plume of Susan Elizabeth Donaldson, née Horwood, a British novelist best known for her suspense novels. Susan Moody began writing crime novels with Penny Black, the first of the seven Penny Wanawake crime novels.  She has a second series of six books featuring bridge player Cassie Swan. In all, she has published 29 novels, most of them crime and suspense. Susan spent two years as a Creative Writing Tutor in Her Majesty's Prison, Bedford. She is a past Chairman of the Crime Writers' Association, serving in all as a CWA Committee member for seven years. She is a long-standing member of the prestigious Detection Club and served for three years as the President of the International Association of Crime Writers.  In 2016 Susan Moody began a new series featuring Alex Quick. Click the title to read a review of the first book in her Alex Quick series. Quick and the Dead 

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