==Synopsis of the book:==
To the outside world Mr and Mrs Penhallow have everything and a life that most would envy. Both have successful careers, a lovely house and a son at University. Their marriage has always been solid despite Andrew spending much time away in Brussels on business. While Carla has a successful television career.
However their contented and happy life is about to be turned on its head when a visitor appears. While Carla is in bed suffering from a migraine a young lady visits Andrew. He is shocked and annoyed by this visit from this beautiful woman who no longer wants to be the skeleton in his cupboard. Andrew quickly comes to his senses and as it is already dark he installs her in the local hotel which causes much much gossip in the village about their relationship.
The locals have even more to gossip about the following morning as Andrew's dead body is discovered by his wife in the back garden having been stabbed to death. Now Superintendent Alan Markby and his girlfriend Meredith Mitchell must work officially and unofficially to try and find out who murdered this respected if someone aloof man.
==My thoughts on this novel:==
For me this was an enjoyable crime thriller without being outstanding. I am sure in six months time I would struggle to remember much about it as in many ways it was an unremarkable read. Maybe that sounds a little mean but it was a murder mystery that really I did not feel taxed me or made me think to much about it. Yes it was well thought out and I can't complain about the way it was written , I just felt it was a bit slow and really lacked a real sting in the tail.
I have read several novels written by author Ann Granger. On the whole I have found her mysteries very good and she has written 27 books so far. My favourite series are the Fran Varady stories that account for seven of these. However this series of stories featuring Mitchell and Markby account for 15. This is my first experience of this series, this one is the 11th and was written in 1998.
My reason for selecting this story was simple reputation. I have enjoyed all the Fran Varady stories I have tried I think basically because she is such a fabulous character and one I feel I can relate to. So when I discovered this English author had written another series of crime stories I was keen to try one. Yes ideally I would have read the first in this series first but this was the only one on sale at my local Charity Shop so my decision was made for me.
When I picked up the novel I was immediately impressed by two things. The first was visual, I really liked the picture of a big house as darkness was approaching. It looked old and I usually enjoy thrillers set in period houses. The second thing that I liked was the intriguing tittle. 'Call the dead again' sounded very interesting and I wondered what the author was thinking off and for me it conjured up a variety of very different thoughts in my mind.
I flipped the book over to have a look at the summary to see what the story was all about. It was very impressive. It was a good size at three paragraphs, but it was the content that impressed me. It was full of good detail and really got my reading juices flowing. I really liked several of the concepts it brought up and it seemed full of mystery. I certainly got the impression there was a lot more behind Mr and Mrs Penhallow's life than met the eye and I liked the idea of this mystery woman turning up unannounced at their door.
The story to my surprise did not start with a prologue but then in retrospect it did not need one. I liked the opening to it, as it set the scene well and immediately grabbed my interest as I found I had to know more about this mysterious young lady who arrived at their door. It was an excellent start and while it was quite gentle I felt it eased me into the story and had enough depth as to draw me in while it oozed mystery.
Once the murder had happened I really enjoyed the way the focus of the investigation was on this mystery woman initially. I liked the angle the author used on her and the fact we only were given so much information on her and I found myself needing to know about her history. I felt this was handled intelligently and what the author said was cleverly written. Although I started to feel the story began to drift and nothing seemed to happen with an urgency and that frustrated me.
Not only that but as the stories pace failed to increase, I kept expecting the author to introduce a number of possible suspects that might have had reason for wanting Andrew dead. And while she did introduce a few I felt there were never enough suspects to really make this a classic murder/ mystery. The options where always limited and I kept expecting twists and turns that would take my breath away. For me this never happened, yes there were a couple of good twists but they where not as dynamic or exciting as I hoped they would be.
That said I did think the writer was excellent at creating a real sense of mystery around her characters. I felt because of this you where never sure who was telling the whole truth and who was hiding information about themselves. And while there was some suspense I did not feel the author exploited it as much as should could have done if there was more happening within the story.
The only time the pace of the story increased was right at the end of the mystery. Yes this was cleverly thought out and I had not suspected the guilty party. It was just disappointing the excitement could not have started earlier. That said it was a good ending and one that made sense. I just feel to turn a good story into a very good one it needed to move quicker and have more adventure within it.
As for me it seemed more like a light read and one that is ideal maybe for those wanting a relaxed and easy read. Maybe this would be a good book to take on holiday as it is easy to pick up and put down again without losing the thread of the story. As it was a good story but lacked the challenges a series murder mystery fan would enjoy.
In the other Fran Varady stories it is the quality of the lead character that always impresses me. In this story I found I did not really take to either Mitchell or Markby. There was something to slow and genteel about them. Maybe I need to really get to know them and read another book as it takes time to understand and appreciate characters. As I felt I had little in common with them and their personalities did not really separate them from the crowd or in any way impress me.
I thought the length of the story was a little too long given what had happened or not really within the story. I would certainly liked either more action, more suspects or both to really get me excited by the story. This story for me felt a little old fashioned and I think it would appeal more to the elder members of society.
I am in two minds whether I would recommend this murder mystery or not. On the positive side it was a good concept and a story that was well thought out and executed. Although for me it was a little too slow and I was constantly waiting for something to happen. So for me this is an undecided. As again for me this story was not a patch on the Fran Varady stories by the same author. I think I will try another in this series soon to see how it compares.
Price: 4.05 new at Amazon
Year first Published: 1998
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
© CPTDANIELS June 2012.