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Saturday 22 January 2022

‘Bone Idle’ by Suzette A. Hill

Published by Constable,
25 June 2009.
ISBN: 978-1-84529-937-8

The third in the series featuring the Reverend Francis Oughterard, (FO) Vicar of the Parish of Molehill, opens with the arrival on FO’s doorstep of Detective Sergeant Sidney Samson, announcing that owing to the appointment of the new superintendent, Slowcome of the Yard, who thinks that the local police are too sleepy and complacent, the killing of Elizabeth Fotherington is to be re-opened.  This is FO’s worst nightmare. Having offed her in book one, in the hope of some peace and quiet, the last thing FO wants is the matter being resurrected.

Whilst cogitating on this turn of events, more trouble rears its head in the shape of Nicolas Ingaza, who wants FO to purloin a pig with emerald eyes and a bejewelled tail, owned by Claude Blenkinsop, the brother of Archdeacon Blenkinsop. You might well say, tell Nicolas Ingaza to take a running jump, but unfortunately life is never that simple. Nick has provided an alibi of sorts for FO in the killing of Elizabeth Fotherington, and not to put too fine a point on it, has old FO over the proverbial barrel.

Attempting to get himself out of one mess, FO gets into another. Dealing with the pig stealing episode he finds himself in the vicinity of Violet Pond, daughter of the late Elizabeth Fotherington, who is convinced that the money left by her mother to FO should rightfully have been hers. And even worse, she has married a chap called Victor Crumpelmeyer, who wants his bride to get her just deserts!

So poor FO is in a right two and eight, and resorts to bashing Beethoven on the piano, chewing humbugs and smoking cigarettes, sometime the wrong way up. But all is not lost as always on hand to help, or in some cases hinder, are his trusty pets, the sterling Bouncer and the supercilious Maurice, not to mention the marvellous addition of Florence the wolfhound – what a lady she is.

Causing FO constant problems are Bishop Horace Clinker, who is endeavouring to win the Bracknell tiddlywinks Cup, and FO’s sister Primrose who paints sheep – I will say no more.

Set in the wonderful period of the 1950s, the tale is told from three points of view: FO, Bouncer the dog, and the wonderful Maurice the cat. Another murder sends FO into meltdown, and it’s up to Bouncer and Maurice to try and keep FO out of jail so that they have a continual supply of good food and a home. Utterly wonderful.  Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

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 Herefordshire. 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 The Primrose Pursuit the first book featuring Primrose Oughterard, a sequel to the earlier ‘Bones’ series.

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