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An Air That Kills (The Lydmouth Crime Series) Paperback – February 2, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This engrossing launch of a series from Creasy Award winner Taylor (The Second Midnight) introduces Jill Francis, a heartsick London journalist visiting Philip, a former colleague, and his wife, Charlotte, in the postwar English countryside. In Lydmouth, Jill is caught up in a local police case involving the town ne'er-do-well's discovery of an old wooden box containing an infant's bones, a scrap of yellowed newsprint and a brooch. New CID Inspector Richard Thornhill questions Charlotte, whose family owns the newspaper the fragment matches, and Major Harcutt, who is compiling a history of Lydmouth. Then Harcutt is slain, leaving the ne'er-do-well as prime suspect in everyone's minds until Jill, who has been helping the major's daughter cope with her father's death, stumbles on the truth. Taylor subtly weaves the threads of this thoughtful, melancholy tale until they become an interlaced whole before the reader's eyes.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In this new series by Taylor (Blood Relation, LJ 2/1/91), the protagonists fall easily into the "stranger arrives in town" category. Both Detective Inspector Richard Thornhill and ex-journalist Jill Francis chose the village of Lydmouth as an escape; now, they both become involved in a mystery dating back to the Victorian era when a group of laborers discovered the bones of an infant in a former cesspool. As newcomers in town, Thornhill and Francis tread lightly, both with each other and with the natives. Colorful characters, a fascinating story line, and short, pithy paragraphs should make this a popular choice.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Lydmouth Crime Series
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperback (February 2, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340617136
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340617137
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 0.9 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,415,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
With the victim's identity more sensational than the murder, we have an English mystery by Andrew Taylor. Mr. Taylor holds excitement like strings of a puppet and uses each one to keep the reader probing different directions. No one is sure who the killer might be until he is able to understand who the victim is. Don't stop once you begin reading. The story unfolds carefully toward the surprising end.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith on April 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Set in the 1950s in Lydmouth, an ancient market town on the border between England and Wales. Two newcomers to Lydmouth: Jill Francis and Detective Inspector Richard Thornhill become involved in investigating a mystery. Both, as becomes clear during the story, are caught up with issues in their own lives. Jill, recovering from an emotional experience of her own, is visiting with her former colleague Philip and his wife Charlotte. Detective Inspector Thornhill and his family have their own adjustments to make to life in Lydmouth.

It is the week before Remembrance Sunday. When workmen demolishing an old inn discover a small box, a brooch, a scrap of old newspaper, and the pitiful remains of a newborn baby in a disused privy, the police are called in to investigate. How old are the remains? Could they be related to a woman tried in a celebrated Victorian murder trial? Who is involved in this case, and what is the truth? In looking for answers, Detective Inspector Thornhill finds that there are many more questions and a number of the inhabitants of Lydmouth have secrets which they'd rather not share.

I enjoyed this novel (published in 1995), and I'm looking forward to reading Mr Taylor's other novels - including the series of which this book is the first instalment.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Linda Pagliuco VINE VOICE on March 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Lydmouth is small, postwar English town along the Welsh border, a place that has seen better days. Still, newly promoted CID Richard Thornhill eagerly accepted a position on the Lydmouth police force. But he and his family are having some problems adapting to their new home. Successful London journalist Jill Francis accepts an invitation from friends to stay with them in Lydmouth, while recovering from an emotional experience that only becomes clear as the story develops. Complicating Jill's recovery is the uncomfortable fact that she and her host were once an item, and his wife is well aware of that. A further complication is the small box unearthed by some constructions workers , one of whom is the town's ne'er-do-well.

An Air that Kills is one of Andrew Taylor's early novels, and while it lacks the edge that characterizes his recent books (Bleeding Heart Square, An Unpardonable Crime, The Roth Trilogy), his potential is evident from the very first page. This is a dark-ish tale , in which old wounds are reopened and both protagonists and neighbors have plenty of secrets of their own. Taylor is adept at using gothic elements in a thoroughly modern way, avoiding melodrama while building suspense via the insertion of subtle psychological suggestion. His skillful plotting and his ability to draw readers into time and place are unrivaled. Taylor deserves a much wider American readership.

Highly recommended. I look forward to the next entry in this series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Roberts VINE VOICE on April 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First Sentence: November is the month of the dead.

Both journalist Jill Francis and Inspector Richard Thornhill are new to Lydmouth and both have issues in their lives. Richard is trying to become accustomed to the ways of the small town and Jill is staying with her friend, Phillip, and his wealthy, and rather imperious wife, Charlotte.

During the clearing of an old property, an old wooden box is found containing a tarnished silver brooch and a baby's bones. They go to the town historian, who points them back to a Victorian-era murder. However, the investigators find that things are not what they seem.

I've only recently discovered Andrew Taylor's books, and what a delightful discovery it is. I'd previously read the second book in the Lydmouth series, but decided to go back and start the series at the beginning.

The setting is different from the norm: early post WWII, small-town England. Being a village, albeit fictional, allows the reader to become familiar with the residents and geography of this community located on the Anglo-Welsh border.

Next the characters: The two primary characters are outsiders to the community and to each other. In this first book, we meet the two characters and, through the story, learn their history and see their association begin. These are not sweetness and light characters, but are very human, as are all the characters in Taylor's story. It reminds one that behind the façade of the idyllic village are people.

Taylor's writing is evocative with a strong sense of time and place. The plot is wonderfully done. It seems quite straightforward, in the beginning, but goes somewhere I certainly never expected.

I so enjoyed this book, I am on a quest to find the rest of the Lydmouth series books.
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