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Wednesday 7 July 2021

‘Down in the Country’ by James Bowring.

Published by The Book Guild Ltd,
28 April 2021. 
ISBN 978-1-91355169-8 (PB)

A couple are shocked to discover the naked body of a woman neatly laid out in their garden.  She has been strangled and Acting Inspector Casper (‘Dick’) Beauregard, who has never led a murder investigation, is in charge of the inquiry.  Baffled as to how and why the woman’s body ended up in the garden, he seeks assistance from ex-Detective Inspector Clive Walsingham, a man known for his detached, analytical approach to police work.  Clive and his wife Clare are now running the Follycombe Hotel in Carlow Valley, but he cannot resist such an interesting request. 

As the police learn more about the victim’s past, they begin to look into the activities of a dubious local businessman and his henchmen. However, when Lord Westleigh, current occupant of a local stately home, reports that his daughter Lucy is missing, Beauregard is assigned to that case.  This leaves Clive to become increasingly involved in the murder case, with the grudging help of Constable Alison Pawlett.  Clare, covering his absences from the hotel, looks on with a sometimes amused acceptance but mostly annoyance.

The first few chapters carefully establish the main characters and the tentacles emanating from that crime and then the book proceeds to expand both the cast list and the plot.  This is accompanied by a gentle strain of comedy and a reasonable amount of cake, as well as Archie the cat.  The story has interesting twists and a number of confusing elements that hold the attention to the end.  This is currently a stand-alone, but the final sentence of the book suggests there the main characters may return.

Reviewer: Jo Hesslewood

James Bowring was born in London. After obtaining an Honours degree from the University of Exeter, he qualified as a chartered librarian. He lived for many years in the Home Counties working as a librarian and he has a lifelong affection for books and writing. James is now retired and lives in Dorset with his wife, Polly, and two demanding cats.

Jo Hesslewood.  Crime fiction has been my favourite reading material since as a teenager I first spotted Agatha Christie on the library bookshelves.  For twenty-five years the commute to and from London provided plenty of reading time.  I am fortunate to live in Cambridge, where my local crime fiction book club, Crimecrackers, meets at Heffers Bookshop .  I enjoy attending crime fiction events and currently organise events for the Margery Allingham Society.

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