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Friday 12 November 2021

‘One Thousand Moons’ by Martin Hurcomb.

Published by Matador,
28 June 2021.
ISBNB: 798-1-80046313-4 (PB)

The story starts with Vaughan’s funeral. He was a much-loved member of the gardening volunteers at Hillstone Hall and Gardens, the home of the 7th Lord Hartfield.  Alba White, also a volunteer at the Hall, was very fond of Vaughan and, together with three of his gardening ‘family’, has been seated at the front of the church - something requested by Vaughan himself.  They are all surprised when the vicar asked them to collect the items that had been placed on the coffin, again at Vaughan’s request.  There is, however, one vacant place in the pew and one spare item on the coffin. Vaughan has left his secateurs to Tom who can’t attend the funeral, as he is in prison on remand, accused of Vaughan’s murder.

Alba is between jobs and living alone in the quiet village, almost drifting through life.  She starts to think about the day of the murder (at a charity cricket match) and the events which led to her discovering Vaughan’s body.  He had brought his brother Clive’s RAF war medals for Tom to see and photograph.  Alba, aware of the sentimental value of such medals, had persuaded him put them away to stop attracting attention.  She does not believe that Tom is a murderer and, having the time and the inclination, starts putting together event, actions and small pieces of evidence in the hopes of identifying the true criminal.  Her  life suddenly has some direction and focus.

Though set in the early 2000s, the novel has a mid-20th century atmosphere;  village activities, tea and cakes, a local vicar, tips on how to cater for a funeral all work together to conjure up a different time. Alba herself is an interesting version of the amateur detective; she is motivated by affection and a desire to find the truth and combines these motivations with intelligence, drive, and strength of character .  This is a well-written and captivating story, with nods to the country house mystery.

Reviewer: Jo Hesslewood 

No details of the author available.

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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