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I will be the first to admit that I don't use charity shops. Not because I have a problem with second hand goods, they're just places I walk past without really thinking about going inside. This was before my sister started to volunteer at st Peters Hospice. On going in to see her it has made me well aquainted with their bookshelves and a gratitude towards new reading material at ridiculously cheap prices. Wycliffe was the first novel I picked up and it will probably not be the last review I shall write from the detective series, not when I managed to buy 4 other stories along with it.
In a quiet village in Cornwall a woman is found having been murdered in a church. Not only is the way she is sprawled across the floor resembling Mary Magdalene curious but also the fact that organ keys have been jammed down, footwear from the victim have gone missing and rumours of an unsolved hit and run have all surfaced. As Wycliffe sets out to solve the crime one thing is clear, this is not an open and shut case. With all things considered and everyone a suspect the murderer could still be at large, something which the Chief Superintendent clearly does not express enough to the small community.
Although she is only alive for a few chapters I found murdered farm owner Jessica to be the most interesting. You learn a lot more about her character dead, where all manners of her personality are discussed and it is clear that she led a somewhat promiscuous life. Perhaps a reason for her to be killed? A jealous partner maybe or could it of happened because her brother in law wanted to get his hands on her land! There's one thing for certain, she wasn't the most popular of people. I can't help but think that that's what makes her so appealing. She could of been malicious, spiteful or vindictive as are some of the opinions of her character but W J Burley never gave us the opportunity to decide first hand as to what she was really like.
There is a multitude of people involved although again we don't really delve into their personalities. Wycliffe himself reminds me of Inspector Barnaby from Midsomer Murders. Being calm and collected is his key role and having this similar softly softly approach he can get people to talk. Able to become authorative when he thinks a witness is holding something back without making them clam up.
The truth is until a few pages before the end of the book it could of been any of the villagers with blood on their hands, something which I quite enjoyed. When clues are discovered you are able to pick them up at the same time. There is no thinking about what Wycliffe is doing wrong as you (well I anyway) are havingh the same thoughts.
On saying that I was a little disappointed with the culprit. Although this is more likely down to them hardly being mentioned. It would of been nice to of heard more of their actions as to what drove them to it and less about others who are completely uninvolved with the case.
With everything in mind this is an uncomplicated crime novel. There is no evidence of Burley trying to confuse you with sub plots and the witnesses all have something worthwhile to say. The descriptions are vivid yet not too gruesome. Tiny details are not missed out on and the tale is a worthy read. Each chapter tells you which moment in time you are at, starting from the Wednesday before Easter Sunday to the Thursday afterwards. Each section is vital to the novel so an overlooking of a Tuesday morning breakfast chapter could of made things more complicated in the long run.
219 pages in total it entertained without being too grizzly. If you were looking for something to get your teeth into then you might want to not bother with this book. Grittier than an Agatha Christie fiction it is still quite gentle compared to todays crime novels.