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Sunday, 16 August 2020

‘Murder Your Darlings’ by Debbie Young

Published by Hawkesbury Press,
29 February 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-91122355-9 (PB)

For several years Sophie Sayers travelled extensively around Europe teaching English as a Foreign Language.  Then she inherited a cottage in Wendlebury Barrow from her aunt May Sayers and that put paid to her globetrotting exploits.  May, a renowned travel writer, had previously encouraged a young man in the village to establish a local bookshop, Hector’s House.  Now Sophie not only works in the bookshop but is also in a relationship with its owner.  She would love to write her aunt’s memoirs but lacks confidence as a writer.  Hector, on the other hand, has faith in his girlfriend’s literary abilities and when Sophie wins a competition to attend a writers’ retreat Hector encourages her to go.  Despite her initial apprehensions, Sophie decides that spending a few days on a Greek island might bolster her writing and her morale.  As it turns out, our protagonist does find the trip challenging but not quite in the way she expects.

Sophie’s fellow participants are a motley crew and it is clear from the outset that there will be personality clashes during the course of their stay.  No one could have predicted, however, that the special guest on the retreat, Marina Milanese, would vanish after taking a walk to see the local windmill.  When some of her belongings are found on the cliff top, it is assumed that she has plunged into the sea and drowned. The question is, of course, did she fall or was she pushed?  Marina had made herself unpopular with the proprietor of the Hotel Ola Kala and several of the retreat members.  Any one of them had the motive and opportunity to shove the haughty author from the precipice into the sea below, but the person discovered at the scene of the disappearance is Sophie herself.  Not unnaturally, therefore, she sets about trying to unravel the mystery of the missing writer.  When the weather turns and a storm ensues, the atmosphere becomes even more tetchy.  The sense of glorious solitude that had embraced the characters when they first arrived on the sun-drenched island of Floros gives way to anxiety and mistrust.

This is a perfect summer read.  Debbie Young’s writing is light and enjoyable.  Her plot moves fast and accelerates towards an unexpected dénouement.  The characters are interesting and suspicion swings from one to another in a story that is cosy, romantic and humorous.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book, it was the perfect companion for a hot, lazy summer’s day.
Reviewer: Dot Marshall-Gent

Debbie Young was born and raised in Sidcup, Kent. When she was 14, her family relocated to Germany for her father’s job. Debbie spent four years at Frankfurt International School, broadening her outlook as well as gaining the then brand new IB (International Baccalaureate). She returned to the UK to earn her BA (Hons) in English and Related Literature at the University of York, then lived and worked for a while in London and the West of England as a journalist and PR consultant.  In 1991 she moved to the Cotswolds. In 2002, she married a Scot named Gordon whom she met in Swindon – and not, as village rumour once had it, a Swede named Scottie.  In 2003, her daughter Laura was born.  Best Murder in Show was the first in her series featuring Sophie Sayers. There are now a further three books in this series.

Dot Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years first as a police officer, then as a paramedic and finally as a fire control officer before graduating from King’s College, London as a teacher of English in her mid-forties.  She completed a M.A. in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education, London and now teaches part-time and writes mainly about educational issues.  Dot sings jazz and country music and plays guitar, banjo and piano as well as being addicted to reading mystery and crime fiction.  

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