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Thursday, 4 March 2021

‘The Ship of Death’ by Vera Morris

Published by Accent Press Ltd,
15 October 2020.
ISBN 978-178615993-9 (PB)

This is the fourth in Vera Morris’s Anglian Detective Agency series set in the 1970s in a small rural community on the Suffolk coast.

The agency is asked to look into an outbreak of vandalism on the nearby RSPB bird reserve at Minsmere but before they have a chance to look into the case, a local young labourer is found murdered. All the evidence points to Caleb Breen who co-owns a farm with his twin brother, Daniel. Though Caleb is avoided by the community at large because of his strange looks and disability, those who know him best, which includes the members of the agency, find it difficult to believe the antisocial young man capable of murder.

Life has been difficult for the Breen brothers. Their mother died recently and her estranged brother who the twins have never seen before turns up at the funeral. He has the same genetic deformity as Caleb – a widow’s peak, wide-spaced eyes and webbed fingers – and a bond forms between the two men.

After Caleb’s arrest, his uncle approaches the agency to help prove the boy’s innocence. Deciding whether to take on the case is a difficult decision for the agency members. The two ex-detectives on the team are reluctant to take on a case that might sour the good relationship the agency has with the local police force especially as they were once colleagues. However, another member was a great friend of the Been brothers’ mother and has taken it upon herself to look after the twins since her death, is adamant that they must take the case. Eventually, the team are persuaded to take it on.

What attracted me to this novel was its setting, and mention of Minsmere in particular, and I did enjoy reliving my memories of visits to the wonderful bird reserve in the late ’70s. This was the first novel in this series that I had read, and I was introduced to some larger-than-life characters working at the reserve. As the investigation unfolds, I learn more about the developing relationships between the five agency members. The novel can be read as a standalone, but my personal recommendation is that if you’re new to this Vera Morris series, you might get more by reading them in order.

What attracted me to this novel was its setting, and mention of Minsmere in particular, and I did enjoy reliving my memories of visits to the wonderful bird reserve in the late ’70s. This was the first novel in this series that I had read, and I was introduced to some larger-than-life characters working at the reserve. As the investigation unfolds, I learn more about the developing relationships between the five agency members. The novel can be read as a standalone, but my personal recommendation is that if you’re new to this Vera Morris series, you might get more by reading them in order.
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Reviewer: Judith Cranswick

Vera Morris blew soap bubbles in Woolworth's, cooked in hotels and electro-fished in Welsh rivers, before becoming a teacher.  Most of her teaching career was in a local mixed comprehensive in South Oxfordshire, where she became Headteacher. Her interests include writing, gardening, cooking, reading, the theatre, museums and art galleries, and travelling in her campervan.

 http://www.veramorris.co.uk/

 

Judith Cranswick  was born and brought up in Norwich. Apart from writing, Judith’s great passions are travel and history. Both have influenced her two series of mystery novels. Tour Manager, Fiona Mason takes coach parties throughout Europe, and historian Aunt Jessica is the guest lecturer accompanying tour groups visiting more exotic destinations aided by her nephew Harry. Her published novels also include several award-winning standalone psychological thrillers. She wrote her first novel (now languishing in the back of a drawer somewhere) when her two children were toddlers, but there was little time for writing when she returned to her teaching career. Now retired, she is able to indulge her love of writing and has begun a life of crime! ‘Writers are told to write what they know about, but I can assure you, I've never committed a murder. I'm an ex-convent school headmistress for goodness sake!’

http://judithcranswick.co.uk/  

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