Lately I have been reading several novels by Anne Perry. This is my fourth in as many weeks all within the Christmas series of books. Anne is an International best selling writer who specialises in either romantic and adventure stories from the Victorian era.
==Synopsis of the book:==
Superintendent Runcorn is a man in need to a holiday. So he sets of for a Christmas break in early December in Anglesey. After only a few days he sees the women Melisande Ewart he has come to this area to get away from. Never a man good with emotions he has fallen in love with her and now he comes up to forget her only to find her here and engaged to another man.
However when he is walking early one morning he discovers the murdered body of Olivia Costain in the churchyard, where her brother is the vicar. The local community are devastated by this brutal attack on this popular local women. With the local Police out of their depth and a special appeal from Mrs Ewart persuades Runcorn to help try and find out who killed this woman and why.
==My thoughts on this novel:==
Initially I think what attracted me to an Anne Perry story was her reputation as a very successful writer. I can certainly see why as she produces from my experience high quality stories that are direct and fascinating reads. Part of my interest admittedly is to learn a little more about our past, what it was like to like in Victorian Times. Despite these being fictional stories, they have believable characters within a story that is interesting and credible.
This book was every bit as good as the other three I have read and I particularly enjoyed this one because it was a classic Detective novel. And while I find it odd how hard it was to catch a killer without the modern advantages such as forensics and Close Circuit Television, this story takes you back to interviewing suspects and building a picture of the characters but what actually happened on the night in question.
I found the story very easy to get into although I did not immediately realise it was Melisande Ewart he was trying to forget. The murder happened very early on in the book, which automatically created a sense of mystery and got me curious to understand what had happened. Especially as this seemed a very small isolated community, who did not know how to deal with this attack and saw it as the work of an outsider who was probably a 'madman' as well. Although I was a little surprised given Runcorn was an outside and he discovered the body, no one suggested he might have committed the crime.
While I was pleased when Runcorn agreed to help with the investigation, I found it slightly odd that the force from Caernarfon under Sir Alan Faraday had no experience of murder. I enjoyed the traditional approach Runcorn used and how he needed to understand the past the suspects history to get a clearer picture. I enjoyed the way the story developed at a reasonable pace but always friction between Runcorn and the man he was forced to report to Faraday. I found that quite entertaining and I'm sure the author because of their differing ideologies could have added more humour to these scenes had she chosen.
What this story was rich in was mystery and suspense, it seemed the further you went into the story the more mystery there was that needed to be discovered and the more possibilities there were, with some surprising revelations alone the way added to the mystery.
The story very typically for the Christmas series was short just 160 pages long. But I found within that time I had enjoyed and absorbing story. The conclusion I found well paced and the outcome made sense; admittedly I would have never got it!! Although I did at the time think it could have been anyone of three people, all who seemed to have motive to kill the unfortunate woman. At this point I had my only compliant about the story as I did not think the author explained well enough why the murder was committed by X and how he had got to that conclusion, I was a little lost and an longer explanation was required by me to make sense of it. With an unusual twist at the very end I certainly had not expected either.
In my previous review of Anne Perry's Christmas story, I criticised the author as all the stories had snow as a key background aspect. However I am very pleased there was no snow in this one just beautiful scenery for the author to describe superbly to enjoy. I found this really helped me imagine the place and made me feel I was there with Runcorn on his investigation.
Runcorn was the lead character in this story and while I found him a little naïve when it came to women, he still was a cracking good Detective. I enjoyed his way of working and how he was not afraid to upset people in order to discover the truth. I think this story really worked well for me because he like the reader were outsiders trying to be excepted and find the truth in a very close community.
For me this type of novel is ideal for holiday, as it is short, not too taxing and very easy to read. The only surprise is there are no chapters!!
I found this a well-written, interesting thriller and as such I would recommend it to crime fans especially if you also enjoy stepping back in time. This is an excellent series of books and the author captures what life was like in Victorian society during the festive period. My only doubt was I did not think the author clearly enough spelt out who the murderer was and why, I found it a little hazy and rushed.
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
©CPTDANIELS May 2010