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Published by Headline, 9 July 2020. ISBN: 978-1-4722-7059-7 (HB)
Two years ago, Matthew Ferguson (Miff) walked out of a
well-paid but unsatisfying job in the City and has been living rough ever
since. He is quite happy in his new life, wandering the countryside and
observing how the homeless live, and has no desire to go back to a more settled
existence. Then, one night, settling down in an abandoned warehouse on the
outskirts of the Cotswold market town of Bamford, he sees a man with what
appears to be a body. He runs away, his terror increased by the knowledge that
the man has seen his face. Eventually, he seeks refuge with his uncle and aunt
in the little village of Weston St Ambrose. Here, he thinks, he should be safe.
in Bamford, however, the body in the abandoned warehouse has been discovered.
It is that of a woman, clearly murdered. Inspector Trevor Barker and Sergeant
Emma Johnson of the Bamford police are investigating but there is no clue as to
her identity or of how she came to be in the warehouse, or as to her murderer.
But then retired Superintendent Alan Markby receives a visit from one Harmony
Button whose sister Amber has disappeared. Harmony has heard about the body but
rather than go to the police herself – Harmony’s family includes a number of
petty criminals, well-known to Markby from the past – she wants him to inform
the police. Being now retired Markby tells Harmony that he cannot be involved;
however, Markby’s wife Meredith offers to go with Harmony to the police station
to support her, and the body is duly identified as being that of Amber.
in Weston St Ambrose, life is continuing quietly. Miff, anxious not to impose
on his aunt and uncle too long and wanting also to earn some money, takes a job
as assistant manager at a local garden centre run by a young woman, Samantha
French; here, he hopes, he can finally go to ground and not be found by whoever
it was he encountered in that warehouse.
then, in a field near Weston St Ambrose, a burned-out van is discovered, and in
the van the incinerated remains of a human body. The van, however, belonged to
another member of the Button family, Gary, brother of Amber and Harmony, and
this draws the team of Mike Carter and Jess Campbell, along with fellow
detectives Dave Nugent and Ben Paget, into a joint investigation with Inspector
Barker and Emma Johnson. The two teams have to put aside any sense of rivalry
before they can find answers to the two mysteries.
with all this writer’s mysteries, it is the array of characters that makes this
story particularly enjoyable. There is a whole of host of especially strong
women, almost Dickensian in character, such as Harmony Button, Amazonian in
defence of her family, and her antithesis, Amber’s landlady, the malevolent
crone Mrs Myrtle Clack. There is the formidable Mrs Jenny Porter, former
headmistress who ensures that Amber’s timid Rumanian fellow-lodger, Eva
Florescu, does eventually tell the police what she knows about Amber. Not to
mention stroppy Debbie Garley, ex-pupil of Mrs Porter, and just about the only
person who dares to argue with her. And Debbie’s garrulous Aunt Glenys who runs
the garden centre café. Even Sam French, outwardly gentle, has the ability to
get Miff to take over the administrative side of the garden centre and, despite
his initial reluctance, to utilise the skills honed in his previous City life.
And there is a splendid denouement with various people trying to escape a
determined killer by cramming themselves into a cupboard too small for them
Granger was born
in Portsmouth where she was a pupil at the then Northern Grammar School for
Girls and went from there to London University where she achieved a BA in
Modern Languages (French with German). After a period spent first teaching
English in France and then working in the Visa Section of British Embassies
around the world. She met her husband, who was also working for the British
Embassy, in Prague, and together they received postings to places as far apart
as Munich and Lusaka. She is the author of the Mitchell and Markby Mysteries,
the Fran Varady series and more recently the Lizzie Martin mystery series. She
lives in Bicester, near Oxford.
born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven
years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice.
Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional
work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of
her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published
late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal
flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a
third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology –
and is now concentrating on her own writing.