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Tuesday 19 October 2021

‘Rack, Ruin and Murder’ by Ann Granger

Publisher by Headline,
8 December 2011.
ISBN: 978-0-7553 4911-1

Balaclava House, once an impressive Victorian pile in the Cotswold Village of Weston St Ambrose, is falling into rack and ruin. So is its owner, Monty Bickerstaffe, who is sliding into decrepitude with a kind of cheerful grumpiness helped along by substantial amounts of alcohol. But when Monty finds the body of an unknown man in his drawing-room his life is completely disrupted. Who is this man? Monty doesn’t know, neither do the police. Inspector Jess Carter and Superintendent Ian Campbell have to unravel the mystery. When it transpires that the body is that of Jay Taylor, a professional ghost-writer, with no known connection to Balaclava House, the mystery deepens.

Meanwhile Monty tries to fend off his interfering niece Bridget although her daughter Tansy is about the only person who cares for him, as he does for her.

This is a really enjoyable book with a host of entertaining and lifelike characters. The author skilfully depicts the modern countryside with its mix of the traditional and the new in that the local garage has a mini-mart and property developers prowl the landscape. And there is a satisfying and unexpected twist on the last page.

Reviewer: Radmila May

Ann Granger was born in Portsmouth where she was a pupil at the then Northern Grammar School for Girls and went from there to London University where she achieved a BA in Modern Languages (French with German). After a period spent first teaching English in France and then working in the Visa Section of British Embassies around the world. She met her husband, who was also working for the British Embassy, in Prague, and together they received postings to places as far apart as Munich and Lusaka. She is the author of the Mitchell and Markby Mysteries, the Fran Varady series and more recently the Lizzie Martin mystery series. She lives in Bicester, near Oxford.

Radmila May was born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice. Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology – and is now concentrating on her own writing.

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