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Tuesday 7 November 2023

‘A Night With No Stars’ by Sally Spedding

Published by Allison & Busby,
1st Deceber 2004.
 ISBN: 0-7490-8312-3 (HB)

This could be considered to be a crime novel or a horror story or a ghost story - there are elements of all three.  Such is the strength of the evocation of misery, hopelessness and malevolence as heroine, Lucy Mitchell approaches the house she is intending to buy that I really wonder at her decision to go ahead!    She has, however, decided to start a new life in Rhayader in Wales after 6 years of little achievement as an editor’s assistant at a publisher in London and a recent unpleasant experience.   She has entered a maelstrom of dark emotions from her hosts on the Ravenstone estate which seem to relate to a past death and she is becoming more and more deeply involved as she struggles to find the truth. 

Other characters experience their own dreadful worlds with one of the characters specialising in close relationships with ravens.  The tension is wound tighter and tighter as Lucy makes her investigations. 

This book is remarkably successful at evoking visceral responses. I can recognise that the story is constructed with great skill and develops to a thrilling and chilling climax. Sally Spedding has published 2 previous crime novels - Cloven and Wringland - which also cross boundaries between supernatural, horror and suspense. 
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer

Sally Spedding was born by the sea near Porthcawl in Wales and trained in sculpture in Manchester and at St Martin's, London. Whilst her work was in demand, Sally began to realise words can deliver so much more than any narrative sculpture or painting. Her first crime mystery, Wringland, was published in 2001 and has a strong historical thread and is set in the bleak fenland around Sutton Bridge. Her second book Cloven also invokes the past. Sally has written a further eight novels. Her strong familial connections with the Pyrenees, Germany and Holland have provided her with themes of loss and exclusion. The dark side of people, and landscape. The deceptive exterior, the snake in the grass are all themes which recur in her writing. In 2018 she started a series featuring DI John Lyon. There are three books in the series. More recently she has a series of five books set in France featuring Lieutenant Delphine Rougier of the French Labradelle Gendarmarie.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic.  

Jennifer died in 2020.

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