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Friday, 28 August 2020

‘Murder on the Moorland’ by Helen Cox

Published by Quercus,
20 August 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-52940-228-5 (PBO)

Kitt Hartley is a librarian at a university library in York and she is passionate about books and research. Kitt does not enter into relationships lightly but, in the last few months, she has become increasingly close to her boyfriend, Detective Inspector Malcolm Halloran. The story opens with Halloran receiving a phone call that informs him that a young woman has been murdered in Irendale, a village on the moors, where Halloran had once lived. The thing that shocks Halloran is that the details of the killing of the new victim, Amber Downing, match the use of Anglo Saxon runes that were used by the serial killer who murdered Halloran’s wife, Kamala, and six other victims. Halloran had caught his wife’s killer, a colleague of his own, but now he fears that the serial killer has got an accomplice who is carrying on his evil work.

Halloran is badly affected by this new development and realises that he has not got over Kamala’s death as well as he thought he had. He is given compassionate leave and knows that he must return to Irendale to discover the truth. Kitt insists on accompanying Halloran to help him in his unofficial investigation and they rent a cottage just outside the village. Soon it becomes obvious that Kitt has more in common with the murdered woman than the police officers; Amber was an archivist, specialising in the Anglo-Saxon era, as well as a champion Scrabble player. This is confirmed when the investigating detective share with them the information that Amber had a note in her pocket with one word written on it, which Kitt immediately identifies as the opening word of Beowulf. Kitt’s academic knowledge and empathy for Amber blends well with Halloran’s detective skill but, as they draw closer to the truth, it becomes clear that the killer is watching them and Kitt’s life is threatened.

Murder on the Moorland is the third book in the series featuring Kitt Hartley and it is a series that goes from strength to strength. I especially admire the skill with which the author weaves in the necessary back stories, providing just the right amount of information in a way that never slows the action. The characters are lively and quirky but also warm and likeable, and the plot is interesting and plays to the central protagonist’s skills. Alongside the murder mysteries, the Kitt Hartley novels have a central theme of healing old scars, both physical and emotional, and helping the protagonists to discover the strength to reclaim their lives and make new relationships. Murder on the Moorland is a very enjoyable read, with a delightful protagonist, which I recommend.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Helen Cox is a Yorkshire-born novelist and poet. After completing her MA in creative writing at the University of York St. John Helen wrote for a range of magazines and websites as well as for TV and radio news. Helen has edited her own independent film magazine and penned three non-fiction books. Her first two novels were published by HarperCollins in 2016. She currently hosts The Poetrygram podcast and works for City Lit, London. Helen’s new series of cosy mysteries stars librarian-turned-sleuth Kitt Hartley and is set in York.      

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 This Game of Ghosts click on the title.

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