As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
New reviews are posted daily, but to search for earlier reviews please click on the Mystery People link below and select 'reviews' from the welcome page. This will display an alphabetic option for you to find the review you would like to read
For PREVIOUS REVIEWS- Click on MYSTERY PEOPLE below -
Quercus, 2 April 2020. ISBN: 978-1-78648-557-1 (HB)
Felicity is eight years old and she has vanished, from under the nose
of her stepmother. It gets worse: devastated by grief for her dead mother,
Felicity suffers from selective mutism, a phobia-like condition which causes
her to freeze in terror when confronted with someone she doesn't know
And as is invariably the case
when a child disappears, the first place the police look is her family. In
Felicity's case, that family consists of three people: her father Nick, who is
Master of an Oxford college, her Danish stepmother Mariah, who has newly given
birth and isn't coping well with the upheaval of new motherhood, and her nanny
Dee, who is the only person to have paid much attention to Felicity recently.
The police are interviewing
Dee, prompting her to cast her mind back over the past few months, in rather
more detail than she divulges to the inspector and sergeant. Right from the
start she paints a heart-rending picture of a little girl who is completely
misunderstood by Nick and Mariah, both of whom are otherwise occupied most of
the time, and emotionally absent when they are there.
It's a novel which contains
everything a novel should: a setting which provides the ideal background;
flawed and vivid characters; narrative tension in abundance. It's all rendered
in a style which any aspiring writer would envy, if they noticed it at all, so
perfectly in tune is it with the subject matter.
Lucy Atkins clearly knows
Oxford like the back of her hand: its foibles and eccentric traditions as well
as its narrow byways and ancient, spooky buildings. Her characters, major and
minor, don't only leap off the page but also stay firmly lodged in the reader's
mind: self-important Nick, self-centred Mariah, Dee with her own history and
issues, Linklater the oddball historian; and of course Felicity herself, wound
so tight that you feel she might snap at any moment, but also serious,
meticulous and very bright indeed.
Dee, the classic unreliable
narrator, is the perfect vehicle for the unfolding story. Her keen jaundiced
eye throws light into far more dark corners than a more sympathetic one would –
and dark corners abound in the house of secrets and lies she is forced to
inhabit. The narrative tugs the heartstrings and grips the emotions as it moves
inexorably to a conclusion which is both surprising and inevitable, like all
the best mysteries. And Magpie Lane is up there with the best.
Some novels entertain for a
few hours, but soon slip off the edge of a busy mind. Others stay around for a
long time, haunting the reader's memory and imagination. Magpie Lane
falls firmly into the second category.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
the author of three acclaimed novels: The Night Visitor (May 2017), The Missing
One (2014) and The Other Child (2015), published by Quercus. She has also
written, co-written or ghost-written seven non-fiction books including the
Amazon #1 parenting title, First Time Parent (Collins). Lucy is a book critic
for The Sunday Times and regularly appears on BBC radio Oxford's Book Club. She
was a feature journalist for many years for UK newspapers including The
Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times, The Sunday Express and magazines such as
Red, Woman & Home, Psychologies and Grazia. Lucy lives with her family in
Oxford, UK. Follow Lucy on Twitter @lucyatkins
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half
of them crime fiction.