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Monday 21 November 2022

‘Deadly Company’ by Ann Granger

Published by Headline,
21 July 2022.
ISBN: 978-1-4722-9018-2 (HB)

It was with delight that I opened Deadly Company, the new book in the Superintendent Alan Markby and his wife Meredith series.

It is February 2005 on a gloomy a Saturday evening, when Alan opens the front door to a slim woman who asks, ‘Are you the Vicar?’  When Alan replies in the negative, she says ‘But this is the vicarage’. Alan’s explanation that the vicar has moved, and the vicarage has been decommissioned, cuts no ice with her, and clearly annoyed she scurries away.

Later Alan is awoken by a hammering on the front door, leaning out of the window to ascertain who is now seeking the vicar, a voice shouts, ‘There’s a dead guy in the churchyard.’ When the caller identifies himself as Callum Henderson, a landscaped gardener known to him, Alan realises he will have to investigate.

Callum who had taken his usual short cut through the graveyard on his regular visit to the Black Dog pub is horrified when Alan declares that the scene has all the hallmarks of a murder. Calum had assumed the bloke had sat down for a rest and had a heart attack,

Now a Superintendent Markby is no longer required to attend post-mortems, but as the corpse had turned up nearly on his doorstep, he accompanies DI Steve Kendal and DS Beth Santos who he has assigned to the case to the mortuary.  Beth Santos is new to the team and Markby is keen to see how she performs in the investigation. The post-mortem reveals that the man was stabbed.  Interestingly there were no defence wounds on his hands although there were slash marks that were made after death.

We are introduced to many interesting characters, Gus Toomey Callum’s employee, the strong silent type. Solicitor Jeremy Hawkins who travels up to London for his job.  He is beginning to wonder if he should maybe spend more time at home especially as his son Rob has suddenly become rather morose. But then again, he’s a teenager.  Then there are the Garrets, Charles and his wife living with his sister.  The Market town of Bamford is like many other places in England. People going quietly about their daily business while underneath thoughts fester with discontent, resentment and maybe murder.

Meanwhile, the investigation proceeds slowly as identification of the victim is proving allusive.  Markby becomes concerned that Callum appears to be in cahoots with DS Beth Santos. I took to Beth and liked her very much. I cannot say the same for DI Steve Kendal, who acted more like a spoilt child than a Detective Inspector.

Incredibly cleverly plotted, with many twists and turns which made this is a compelling read. The identity of the killer was a shock – someone I had not suspected. Most highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

Ann Grange  was born in Portsmouth where she was a pupil at the then Northern Grammar School for Girls and went from there to London University where she achieved a BA in Modern Languages (French with German). After a period spent first teaching English in France and then working in the Visa Section of British Embassies around the world. She met her husband, who was also working for the British Embassy, in Prague, and together they received postings to places as far apart as Munich and Lusaka. She is the author of the Mitchell and Markby Mysteries, the Fran Varady series and more recently the Lizzie Martin mystery series. She lives in Bicester, near Oxford.

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