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Wednesday 23 February 2022

‘The Curse Of The Concrete Griffin’ by Carol Westron

Published by Pentangle Press,
19 February 2022.
ISBN: 979-841630281-8 (PB)

Carol Westron’s new mystery, The Curse Of The Concrete Griffin, brings readers the start of a wonderful cozy mystery series featuring a most unusual pair of sleuths.

Setting the series amidst the charming cottages of the Clayfield Retirement Estate was an inspired choice. The modern cottages give residents their privacy and maintain their independence, within the shelter of a community setting and provide just the kind of closed setting Christie would employ.

Westron introduces readers to two unlikely sleuths who are a study in contrasts to head her series. Maddie Summer is artistic, flamboyant, and definitely a risk-taker. She a young grandmother with an attentive family, and very happy to keep her independence living alone. The more subdued Grace Winton is her counterpoint, the supposed voice of reason who, to Maddie’s mind, needs to be loosened from the strict constraints under which she’d been raised, fulfilling a deathbed promise to her dying mother as a young woman that saw her drop out of university to care for her mean-spirited father until his death.

But the two women have a common bond when they both receive threatening anonymous letters. And despite a fond look in their eyes for the newest single male resident, they soon learn they are not alone in having received poison pen letters—and soon set out to find who is the culprit.

The men in the community include charming Joel, cantankerous Norman, Ron, a crime enthusiast, and Freddie Fell, whose concrete griffin outside his house is the cause of much anxiety among some residents, more for its ugly appearance than the whisper of its curse. Among the women, Nell, Rose and Mrs. Mountjoy, and Ron’s wife Amy are a few of the residents the two sleuths have their eyes on.

Then a murder occurs, and it spurs this dynamic duo to enlarge their snooping from poison pen letters to blackmail to a murder investigation.

The novel is filled with humor, despite the sometimes-sniping tensions of an older community that makes it feel totally realistic. There is the pathos of aging, too, but the book never sinks into being maudlin, but rather, gives a clear-eyed picture of how viable people of a certain age continue to be, with real change possible. Each character is fully-realised, and readers will be yearning for the next installment to see where these two unlikely sleuths will find themselves. This is a strong start to what promises to be an enchanting series.

Westron, who teaches creative writing and is a rich source of Golden Age authors and their mysteries, has worked as an editor and publisher, and written short stories, Victorian and contemporary mysteries. She is a frequent contributor to Mystery People, and will be resurrecting the Deadly Dames panel at Portsmouth Bookfest on  21st February 2022.

Reviewer: Marni Griff

Carol Westron is a successful author and a Creative Writing teacher.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  Her first book The Terminal Velocity of Cats was published in 2013. Since then, she has since written 5 further mysteries. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.


Marni Graff is the author of the Nora Tierney mystery series, set in the UK. She is also co-author of Writing in a Changing World, a primer on writing groups and critique techniques. A member of Sisters in Crime, Graff runs the NC Writers Read program in Belhaven and founded the group Coastal Carolina Mystery Writers. She has also published poetry, last seen in Amelia Earhart: A Tribute; her creative nonfiction has most recently appeared in Southern Women’s Review. Her latest book is Death at the Dakota: A Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery."

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