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Friday 22 May 2020

‘Murder in the Fens’ by Clare Chase

Published by Bookouture,
24 June 2019.  
ISBN: 978-1-83888044-6 (PB)

The body of a young woman is discovered at the earthworks at Wandlebury and the local police team, led by Detective Inspector Blake, identify her as Julie Cooper, a student at St. Oswald’s College, which is part of the University of Cambridge.

Julie was a clever girl who planned to become a journalist after she finished her degree. She was a very vibrant and determined personality and active in campaigning against firms she regarded as corrupt, making herself some powerful enemies who turn out to be frighteningly close at hand. However, the team have other suspects to investigate too, including Julie’s arrogant ex-boyfriend, and a fellow student who is so obsessed with Julie that she mimics her clothes, hairstyle and makeup. Equally urgently, they need to identify a mystery man in Julie’s life, who they have heard of only as John.

The story is told in multiple viewpoints and also chronicles the personal lives of several of the detectives on Blake’s team. While two of his sergeants take the first tentative steps towards a relationship, Blake himself is trapped in a marriage with a deceitful, unfaithful woman whom he feels unable to leave because he loves his two young daughters. Ex-journalist Tara also has a lot of trouble in her past and, since she was sixteen, has been the target of a stalker, who strikes intermittently and has never been identified. Tara’s recklessness has endangered her before and, as the investigation progresses, even though she follows the rules, she finds herself in a situation that threatens her life.

Murder in the Fens is the fourth book featuring Tara Thorpe, and the regular characters have a lot of backstory, which is skilfully told, without slowing the pace of the plot. It is a cosy crime novel, with a lot of emphasis on the central characters’ personal lives, but it is also an excellent police procedural, with a complex and cleverly plotted investigation. The regular characters are likeable, with an intrinsic decency, despite their superficial flaws and differences of opinion, and the plot is interesting and coherent. A very enjoyable read.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Clare Chase writes fast-paced romantic mysteries, using London and Cambridge as settings. Her influences include JD Robb, Janet Evanovich, Mary Stewart and Sue Grafton. Brought up in the Midlands, she went on to read English at London University, then worked in book and author promotion in venues as diverse as schools, pubs and prisons. More recently she’s exercised her creative writing muscles in the world of PR, and worked for the University of Cambridge. Her current day job is at the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Her writing is inspired by what makes people tick, and how strong emotions can occasionally turn everyday incidents into the stuff of crime novels. It would be impossible not to mix these topics with romance and relationships; they’re central to life and drive all forms of drama.
When she’s not reading or writing, Clare enjoys drawing, cooking and trips to the Lake District. Closer to home she loves wandering round the pubs, restaurants and galleries of Cambridge where she lives with her husband and two teenage daughters.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.
To read a review of Carol latest book Strangers and Angels click on the title.

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