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Thursday 22 July 2021

‘Shadow Over Southwold’ by Suzette A Hill

Published by Allison & Busby,
22 July 2021.
ISBN: 978-7490-2721-6 (HB)

Set in Suffolk in 1961, this third in the series commences with the news of the demise of one Horace Dewthorp having fallen from cliff in Dunwich whilst walking Mrs Peebles' dog Freddie, Mrs Pebbles having been laid low with chicken pox.  Apart from Mrs P. being annoyed, although Freddie seemed unconcerned, Horace’s passing has created barely a ripple, Horace not being much missed owing to being a teetotal and not therefore frequenting any of the local hostelries.

In Cambridge Dr Miles Loader is brooding on the death of his third cousin, once removed, who had been found hanging half-mast under Clare College Bridge.

On a cheerier note, Felix Smythe proud owner of Bountiful Blooms by Royal Appointment to the Queen Mother, is telephoning his good friend Cedric Dillworthy to share his joy at having been invited to a smart party in Aldeburgh and asking Cedric him to accompany him.

The first disappointment is that the hotel in Aldeburgh is full and eventually Felix ends up at the Guest House run by Mrs Peebles. Not only is the accommodation well below Felix’s standard but he has omitted to pack his favourite waistcoat. Things brighten a little when he manages to purchase a smart waistcoat in Aldeburgh but soon things deteriorate when Felix finds himself caught up in a murder and is questioned by the police owing to the discovery of a dead body in the guest house in which he is staying.

Inspector Jennings is the investigating officer, as his superior Chief Inspector Nathan is at home laid up with a broken leg. Newly promoted Jennings is out of his depth, but his resolve is stiffened by a visit to CI Nathan, and he decides to grill Felix.  He is just as he about to start when he is handed a note which reads ‘he supplies flowers to the Queen Mum – kid gloves.’

Following a line of enquiry obliquely suggested by CI Nathan, Jennings seeks out the local Vicar who is having problems with the sheep – don’t ask. He does however point Jennings in the direction of the twins Joy and Gaye who have formed a group that take the local vicar to task about forgiving sinners.

The story is full of interesting characters. And there are puzzling clues to follow - penguin biscuits for one……

So, we have two deaths in Suffolk and one in Cambrudge – are they connected and if so, how? Under the calm exterior of the little town, they are murky goings on.  There is indeed a Shadow over Southwold.

Cleverly plotted, the threads are gradually drawn together with a tense climax. The author has a deft touch with prose, and as with all previous books I enjoyed this one immensely.
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett
Earlier books in the series are A Southwold Mystery
, and Shot in Southwold

Suzette Hill was born in Eastbourne, Sussex, in 1941; but has lived in many locations - the Midlands, Nottingham, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Berkshire - and finally in retirement to Ledbury in Hereforshire. Although being an English graduate of two universities and having taught ‘Eng. Lit.’ all her professional life, she never did ever contemplate doing any creative writing herself. It was only when she was sixty-four and well retired, that out of idle curiosity she thought she might try her hand at a short story - just to see what writing fiction felt like. And to her ongoing surprise the Bones series is the result!  Publishers Constable & Robinson.  A Little Murder is the first in a new series featuring Rosy Gilchrist. Followed The Venetian Venture & A Southwold Mystery. There are now three books in the series featuring Primrose Oughterard, a sequel to the earlier ‘Bones’ series.

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