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Sunday 1 May 2022

‘Murder at the Country House’ by Jane Adams

Published by Joffe Books,
21 December 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-80405071-2 (PB)
Originally published as
The Dead of Winter

Rina Martin, retired actress and television sleuth, is invited along with young friends Joy and Tim, to Aikensthorpe Country House Hotel. Tim, an illusionist and magician has been asked to attend by a Toby Thwaite who was at university with Tim.

This is to be a weekend attended by various magicians, physicists and psychic researchers plus a young medium named Claire. The intention is to recreate a séance that took place in 1872, but which had disastrous results. This time it will all be filmed.

Rina and Joy are to be independent observers and Rina in particular is not too keen. Tim had not told them what the weekend was all about. Joy is not very happy and when a certain person is said to have been contacted, she is really upset. The séance is broken up and both her and Rina declare they will leave first thing in the morning. Then it snows heavily.

Just before the roads get completely impassable, Rina’s friend Detective Inspector McGregor (Mac) and his partner Miriam (a forensic scientist) arrive as previously arranged.

Rina finds evidence of someone having been in the attic in a remote part of one of the wings of the House.

Then a body is found. As is to be expected everyone now is on tender hooks. Another blizzard sets in and it’s impossible for anyone to leave or for them to be reached. The atmosphere becomes palpable.

Mac contacts local police officer Detective Inspector Chandler, but of course it’s not possible to get through the drifts. Then another body is found, it’s as if they are being picked off one by one. Who will be next? It becomes apparent that just about everyone has a secret to hide.

Rina and Mac are also sure there is something “not quite right” about the way the hotel is run. To add to the mystery, several connections are found to what happened in 1872 at the séance and the repercussions afterwards.

Even when the snow ploughs manage to get through and Chandler and his men arrive, the atmosphere does not relax. Then there is a power cut! This cannot possibly end well can it?

A really atmospheric, creepy story from one of my favourite authors Jane Adams. Highly recommended for lovers of tales of old houses filled with secrets and tragic pasts.

Reviewer: Tricia Chappell

Jane Adams was born in Leicestershire, where she still lives. She has a degree in Sociology and has held a variety of jobs including lead vocalist in a folk rock band. She enjoys pen and ink drawing; martial arts and her ambition is to travel the length of the Silk Road by motorbike. Her first book, The Greenway, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Award in 1995 and for the Author's Club Best First Novel Award. Jane writes several series.  Her first series featured Mike Croft. Several books featuring DS Ray Flowers. Seven titles featuring blind Naoimi Blake, and six titles featuring Rina Martin. Her most ret series is set between the two World Wars and featuring Detective Inspector Henry Johnstone and his sergeant, Micky Hitchens. Jane has also written several standalone novels. She is married with two children.

Tricia Chappell. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors.

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