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Monday, 9 May 2022

‘The Maid of Kent Murders’ by Amy Myers

Published by Lume Books,
5 May 2022.
ISBN: 978-1-83901-473-4 (PB)

Retired policeman Peter Marsh and his daughter, Georgia, are known professionally as Marsh and Daughter; they investigate unsolved historical crimes and write books describing their discoveries, which are published by Georgia’s husband, Luke Frost. Peter and Georgia use their knowledge of history and Peter’s detective experience to achieve their results, but they also share another less tangible skill, a curious instinct that they call ‘Fingerprints on Time’, a sense of atmosphere that tells them when they are in a place where violent death has occurred and there has been no resolution for the victim. Georgia and Peter keep this awareness of evil having been done a secret between themselves, but they are both certain of its validity.

Peter and Georgia are visiting The Maid of Kent pub in Cobshaw, not in search of a historical mystery but to arrange a concert in memory of Peter’s son, Rick, who died saving a child from drowning. Georgia is dismayed by the shabby decor of the pub and the eccentric nature of its owner, but she knows that this was her brother’s favourite pub and is determined to do everything in her power to organise a successful concert in his honour.

Cobshaw is a bitterly divided village, with strife that reaches back into medieval times. Descendants of the Plantagenets and Tudors are still locked in enmity, disputing the origins and fate of two local figures from history, Richard of Eastwell and Cecilia, the original Maid of Kent. Both the Tudors and the Planters (as Plantagenet descendants call themselves) want to gain ownership of The Maid of Kent pub, although for different purposes. The present owner of The Maid of Kent, Percival FitzRichard, is an eccentric old man, obsessed by his Plantagenet heritage, who needs to sell the pub but will only do so to another Planter descendant. On the Tudor side, equally dedicated to possessing The Maid of Kent, local historian Brenda Randall claims that the pub was once her ancestral home, Cobshaw Court, and she is determined to return the old building to its former glory.

When Peter and Georgia go out to inspect the outdoor theatre that they intend to use for the concert, Georgia feels uneasy when she sees two huge beech trees standing like guardians above the theatre. When they consult each other afterwards, both Peter and Georgia agree that they have experienced the sensation they call ‘Fingerprints on Time’. After a violent storm brings down one of the beech trees, a human skeleton is discovered close to its roots. The victim is identified as a famous actor who had vanished in 1959 after starring in a performance of Romeo and Juliet at the theatre in the grounds of The Maid of Kent, although it was believed that he had returned to London before his disappearance.

With the agreement of their police contacts, Marsh and Daughter join the investigation of this suspicious death, intending to write a book about the crime. However, the long-ago crime stirs up new violence, and another death occurs and, as they move closer to the truth, Peter and Georgia find their own lives in imminent danger.

The Maid of Kent Murders is the ninth novel in the series that features Peter and Georgia Marsh. It is a complex story as the villagers offer many different stories about the origins and story of Cecilia, the original Maid of Kent on whom all the legends are based, and other local historical characters. There is also confusion about the details of the circumstances surrounding the more recent crime that Marsh and Daughter are investigating.

One message that is emphasised throughout the book is that history is altered by every interpretation and is often twisted by those who have an interest in perverting it, often without awareness that they are doing so. Peter and Georgia are engaging protagonists who are attempting to solve the mysterious death, while dealing with some elderly and respected theatrical figures who could easily be suspects. At the same time, they struggle to cope with a family emergency, which could result in Georgia’s stepdaughter-in-law leaving England with her children. The Maid of Kent Murders is an interesting cold case mystery, full of lively, eccentric characters, and which I recommend.

Reviewer: Carol Westron

Amy Myers was born in Kent, where she still lives. For many years she worked as a director in a London publishing firm, before realising her dream to become a writer. Her first series featured detective, August Didier, a half French, half English master chef in late Victorian and Edwardian times. She also writes a series with her American husband James Myers, featuring Jack Colby, car detective, there are 8 books in the series. Her most recent series is set post WW1, featuring chef-sleuth Nell Drury. There are three books in this series.  She has also written nine books featuring Marsh and Daughter, and in between a series about a Victorian chimney sweep Tom Wasp. Amy also writes historical novels and suspense under the name Harriet Hudson.

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 6 further mysteries. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.

To read a review of Carol latest book
The Curse of the Concrete Griffin
click on the title 

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