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==About the author:==
Lesley Cookman is a British author born in Guildford and raised in South London. She has had a varied career having been a model, actress and disc jockey amongst other things. In her writing career she has also been diverse, writing eight fictional mysteries, three plays, short stories and in non-fiction how to write a pantomime.
==Synopsis of the story:==
Strange things are happening at Creekmarsh Place and when Libby Sarjeant's son Adam gets a job there renovating the gardens she is not unhappy at the prospect. The Victorian mansion has recently been bought by television personality Lewis Osborne, but when Adam discovers the remains of a skeleton in the grounds the real mystery begins.
Libby is by nature a curious lady and in the past she has worked together with her good friend Fran to help the local Police solve cases. Now with her son on site and Lewis only to happy to share all his knowledge with her she finds herself once again trying to solve a crime that dates back some years. However, there is more much more to this mystery them meet the eye as the Police are being very cagey about releasing any details about it to anyone. So Libby must work only with Fran and try to piece together this unusual affair.
==My thought on this novel:==
My overall view was this was a good well thought of piece of fiction, which I did enjoy reading. What I liked best was the real sense of mystery that surrounded what was happening and that only at the end were the answers revealed. And while this is not an uncommon occurrence I did like the way the author always made you ask questions by sharing the main characters views and opinions while the story developed and unfolded.
Lesley Cookman is a new author to me, despite having written a total of eight Libby Sarjeant mysteries. This is the fifth in the series and was written in 2009. But despite this I found the story always interesting and easy to follow. And although the two lead characters reminded me a little of the two characters in TV's Rosemary and Tyne, I still appreciated their hard work and eagerness to solve the mystery.
Traditionally I do not enjoy the first novel by a new author to me as it takes me a while to settle to a new style of writing and get to know and understand their mindset. And I think this was true in this case to a degree as I found this book difficult to get into, I felt it was all a bit to slow moving and the characters really didn't inspire me. But the longer I read and the deeper the story got the more I enjoyed it.
A friend who knew I like a good murder gave me this book!! And to be honest my first impression was not great, I am not a gardener and from the title I thought this would be a key feature of the book but I'm glad to say it wasn't and to be honest I do not think this was the most appropriate title for this book. But with the picture of garden implements you could be forgiven for thinking this.
The summary of the story on the rear of the book was quite appealing. It was three short paragraphs but for me it set the scene very well and introduced the main characters and the key event. And to my delight it did not give too much away about what was to follow as lately. I have thought some crime or mystery stories give much to much away in their summaries but for me this one had it just right.
The book started with the discovery on Page 1 of the body by Adam. I cannot think of a better way to start this kind of mystery than something that makes the reader immediate think and wonder. It certainly got me interested in the story and while I did find everything happened very slowly it gave me the opportunity to get to know and learn more about the main characters within the story.
However having said that I did feel the author could have made some of the characters within the story more distinctive. Especially when going back to events in the past. I just found it hard to remember who was who and more description of previous events or unusual names may have helped me as I struggled a little at times.
I did like the way the story moved as it was unusual and I always enjoy a mystery or crime thriller that involves an old historic house. I found I did not have much idea what was going to happen next and some of the twist and turns the author used really impressed and pleasantly surprised me.
The only thing that didn't surprise me was the Police did not seem to be doing much to solve the mystery. I find this is typical of this type of book and they really try and discourage the hero from getting involved in their cases. The only difference and advantage this story had was Fran is a psychic. However I do not think the author used this feature enough to their advantage, although it could be used in forthcoming novels.
I found the concluding chapters quite exciting and I enjoyed the way the answers unfolded. Sadly for me I had decided who the guilty party was about half way through and I was proved to be correct. The only thing I did not understand was the reasons behind it, but this was all explained in a satisfactory if unexpected way. I just hoped the author was impressing me and make it someone else but I was disappointed to be proved correct. Perhaps I choose the wrong career or maybe again I just read far too many crime thrillers.
The lead character was Libby Sarjeant, who is a middle age lady who certainly from this book didn't seem to work. I found her a little hard to understand and get to know. Her life just seemed a little too settled and lacking excitement. However I did warm to her and found I liked her the more I learnt about her, especially her relationship with Fran.
The other main character where all interesting and I liked the way they interacted with each other. I thought the author was very good at describing the both the setting and the scene the characters where involved in. I just thought a little more description of them would have helped me visualise them better and allow me to get to understand them more.
The length of the novel was just about right to tell a well thought out thriller. Yes at times particularly early on in the story I felt not much was happening but it certainly got better. I thought the story was well written with the odd bit of humour that brightened up the story and made me chuckle at the situation that it found itself in. I am keen to try another story from this collection as I feel once I get to know more about the central characters I will appreciate them more.
I thought this was overall a mystery that was worth reading and one I would on balance recommend. The initial concept behind the story was good and with the unexpected twists the author created that always seemed to take me by surprise. The only negatives where it was a little slow going at times and I am still not convinced the lead character will be to everyone's tastes.
Publisher: Accent Press Ltd
Year of Publication: 2009
About the author: www.lesleycookman.co.uk
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published under my user name on both Dooyoo and Ciao.
© CPTDANIELS November 2011