==Synopsis of the book:==
Josie Meade's comfortable life in the village of Long Farnden is shattered when her boyfriend Rob is found very badly beaten after a night drinking. Admittedly there relationship was in trouble and he had left her angry and frustrated looking for solace in the pub. However within a few days he dies from his injuries and the Police are desperate to find those responsible for this hideous crime. They enlist Josie's mother Lois to help them as she has done so on a number of occasions in the past on other local crimes.
This usually quiet and peaceful village is rocked by this revelation and the unwanted visitors that have recently arrived there in the form of gypsy travellers. Suspicion immediately falls upon them and Lois must try and find out exactly what happened to Rob that fateful night. While trying to support her daughter in her hour of need and running her cleaning business. As her initial enquiries discover that there are two different groups of gypsies in the village camping together, while the majority of the locals just want them out of the area as soon as possible.
==My thoughts on this novel:==
This is my first experience of the writing of Ann Purser. And I have to say if this is representative of her work than I think she is a very average writer. She has already written 19 novels and this is the ninth of ten so far in the Lois Meade series of investigations. It was written in 2009 and contains 209 pages in total.
The main reason I picked this book is because of the quote on the front of the book. It likened the lead character Lois Mead to Miss Marple, and I know how popular the Miss Marple stories are with people, so I thought I should try this one, as it must be pretty good. However I was ultimately disappointed and I found a story I expected to read in 3 days took me almost a week. For me it was slow and hard doing and I thought the story lacked a purposeful direction.
Having read this book I thought the title was not a very suitable one. It certainly didn't for me reflect what the story was about. Although when I looked at the summary of the story on the inside cover I was quite impressed by it. It certainly sounded interesting and made me intrigued, but having now read the book I now feel the author gave too much of the plot away in the summary.
When the story began I was instantly interested in what I was reading as Rob was critical in hospital having been found badly beaten in a ditch. I like stories where the action draws you in immediately and this one did that by creating mystery about who did this to Rob and why. However what stuck me as very odd was how little her partner Josie seemed bothered by this horrific event and even her mother Lois was not at all upset by what had happened. I thought the author played down their emotions far too much and it seemed unlikely and made these characters seem hard and unfeeling.
I thought at this point all the right elements where there for a really exciting and thrilling investigation. With there being several colourful characters within the village plus the appearance of the gypsies so that most thought that these travellers must be responsible for Rob's condition. Although I did find it odd the Police tried to get Lois to help solve the case for them, when it was her daughter's boyfriend who had been attacked, a little insensitive maybe?
And even when Rob passed away the Police seemed to do very little to solve the case and where far happier for amateur investigator Lois to try and use her skills to resolve it. From here I found the story hard to believe and I thought it lacked real direction. As the story followed various characters going about there lives and brought a number of different strands to the main investigation.
I found as a result of this the story was slow moving and although there was other things happening the investigation seemed very pedestrian. This led to me getting confused about who was who and what was their relationship to what had happened to the murdered man. I felt the author had too many characters and after a while some would disappear never to appear again and you wondered why they were there at all as they added little to the story.
Although to give the author her due, she did surprise me with a few unexpected developments in the story. And I never knew the solution to the mystery until it was announced at the end. Yes it did make sense but again it seemed a little light, a bit unlikely and not as involved as I had expected. I just felt even in the concluding chapter the pace never really quickened, even if by then I had to know what happened and why.
One concept this author employed that I thought was overdone was her use of chapters. Bearing in mind this story was 209 pages long their where a total of 61 chapters. I thought this was far too many and even before you had got into the scene she was describing the chapter was ending. I would have liked longer more focused chapters on the main part of the story; this would have given it more depth.
The novels lead character is Lois Meade, who was ever present throughout the story. I found her to be a good character, but lacking in personality. By this I mean there was nothing dynamic, interesting or different from her to the average person. She is a happily married women with two grown up children who runs a little cleaning business, nothing about her character really intrigued me. I must admit I did like her way of investigating and I respected the way she went about her business.
I have already mentioned above that I felt the story had too many characters. The result of this was you never really got to know too much about any of them and so I felt I did not really understand them at all. And one character in particular the old gypsy Athalia was one I thought was excellent and I wanted to know more about.
Certainly I think my reading enjoyment might have been improved if I had read this first book in the series instead of the ninth. Because by this stage you are supposed to know and understand you lead character and I felt there was little about her that really interested me. I would recommend me users to this author start with the first one and if you like that move onto later episodes in the series.
I felt this was a pretty poor crime mystery and as such I would not recommend it. Yes in part this could be explained by my unfamiliarity with this author but even allowing for this I still felt it was a slow, hard read that meandered along. For me the story would have been better to have been deeper and concentrated on the murder not focusing on other developments as well.
Thanks for reading my review.
This review was also published on Ciao under my user name.
CPT DANIELS May 2011.