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This is the 3rd book in Taylor's Lydmouth Village mysteries (the 1st was An Air that Kills & the 2nd was The Mortal Sickness (A Lydmouth Mystery)). They are somewhat similar to his Roth trilogy--set in a small town in England--but have a somewhat different feel to them. While the setting is pretty dreary (esp. since this one's in the dead of Winter), they are, perhaps, not as dark as the Roth series. I liked this one best of the 1st 3 in the series and better than the Roth books as well. However, in this book, the romantic tension between the two main characters, Inspector Thornhill & Jill Francis, becomes more intense & more explicit than in the 2 prior books. Also, the mysteries are intertwined and clever. It's pretty slow going until the dramatic end, which is not only surprising, but also leans towards the next book--to see what happens to the two of them.
It's well-written as usual, but with more observant/interesting turns of phrase such as: p. 300: "Jordan wa not a stupid man but, as with so many self-centered people, egoism obscured his view as effectively as a pair of blinkers." But, it's still not in a class with Taylor's terrific masterpieces: Caroline Minuscule and An Unpardonable Crime IMHO.
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The Lover of the Grave is the third entry in Andrew Taylor's Lydmouth series, in which he chronicles the incidence of crime in a 1950's English village. Everyone knows everyone, and class, propriety and respectability are still highly valued. The lives of the villagers are, of course, influenced profoundly by their mores, and when crimes occur, there's usually a carefully hidden secret that lies beneath. It's up to Inspector Richard Thornhill to dig that secret up.
Near Lydmouth stands an ancient oak, renowned as a place of execution and suicide. Now, during a particularly cold winter, the body of a local teacher is found hanging from it, and Thornhill instantly suspects that he did not kill himself. The regional journalist, Jill Francis, naturally wants to write about the sensational story. She and Thornhill, who is married with children, have been strongly attracted to each other ever since Jill first came to town. The plot of this novel plays out on two levels, the murder mystery and the undeniable sexual pull that complicates the relationship between cop and reporter. To complicate matters, a peeping tom is drilling spy holes in the local ladies' convenience, lurking at the windows of hotel guests, and following Jill home.
The Lover of the Grave is a moderately paced, atmospheric mystery, with a host of well-drawn characters and full of local color. Though not as suspenseful as the earlier two novels in the series, it packs enough action, and perhaps more interestingly, psychological elements, to make it well worthwhile. The sudden denouement, on both the personal and professional levels, leaves the readers eager to pick up the next volume.
I enjoyed this as a good detective story plus some romantic moments. I don't understand the title. Jill, a local journalist gets involved on several levels and Detective Thornhill shows his humanity especially when two workers are being persecuted one for his horrible looks and the other as a former Italian prisoner of war. Plot involves a peeping tom along with the major mystery of who hung the schoolteacher from the "Hanging tree". Characters do come alive for example the wife married to a schoolteacher who wants to leave him. Also the movie star returning to see his old friends. Also the children seem very normal as children. I felt the story was a fast read and not depressing either.
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