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MURDER, Now and Then: Murder Mystery 1919 to 2019 Kindle Edition
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The scene of two crimes, “now and then,” is a farm, and though in 2019 its cows choose when to be milked-- the dairy business is almost fully computerized -- area people are old-fashioned and superstitious. The current investigation following the stabbing of farmer Bob Thomas in his own kitchen, possibly by his wife Joanna, is soon tangled up in the unsettling and unsolved attack on a young woman in 1919 in the adjacent woods. That woman was from Jersey. During the war, Lucille Vardon came to Bedfordshire as a member of the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps to work in the officer’s mess in a tent camp. Her murderer was not found. The Thomas’s housekeeper, Helen Carter, who has just lost her daughter, becomes obsessed by that earlier crime, and starts digging into local archives. Letters and photographs give up tiny clues which must be pieced together both in her mind and in the mind of Anna, a Cambridge student from Jersey studying ornithology. She has inherited letters from Lucille, who was her great-great-grandmother’s cousin. As Anna explores the area by bicycle, she and the dead farmer’s son start watching each other through their binoculars.
This novel has sharp edges to it. For one thing, the plot is laced with lust. It also feels political, pitting commercial innovation against tradition and superstition. Some of the characters appear zombie-like, and others are hiding who they are. Leukemia plays a role. Toilets are cleaned. Lucille’s death a century ago is commemorated by a sunrise ceremony in a churchyard where her stone cross grave marker “was leaning at a disturbing angle, as if the occupant might be pushing her way out” of the ground. The chief investigator is distressingly eager to prove Joanna the killer before his retirement. Two underlings race to find answers, going to Jersey to find Anna. Anna quickly leaves for another island to count Puffins.
Jackson is a spellbinder, but also has a propensity for sharing information, which is authoritative and wide-ranging. The history of the dairy herds, the migratory patterns of birds, and the annual parade of historical automobiles, all seem relevant and certainly add atmosphere, as do the tantalizing messages that draw Futurenet visitors to a contest and ultimately private tours of the area around the crime scene. It’s all very foreboding, and one wonders how the author can possibly tie up all the menacing, wiggly embroidery threads. The author slips in a reference to “Midsomer Murders” and on her website says reviewers have compared her mystery set in an English village to those in the TV series. I find it more sinister, as remarked by her character whose great-grandfather helped build airships near that village, as his quest for information about the past “had sown a seed deep within him and it grew like bindweed.”
This review appeared first on www.bookpleasures.com (Norm Goldman).
Murder Now and Then has a full cast of characters bearing red herrings. From Bedfordshire through the City of Cambridge, to the Channel Isalnd of Jersey, even as far off as Canada, the emphasis is on the alleged link between the past and the time in which the action is set. All of which tests the abilities of the investigating police officers to the maximum.
Changes that the author enviages might ocur to life in Britain, indeed life in general, in the next five years oblige the reader to suspend disbelief just a little, but they do entertain. However the changess in information technology I found entirely believable. With the team work that we all know our police persons undertake, the invesigating officers tease out the surprise conclusion.
The plotting is nicely tight, the characters well drawn. Add to this that the authors style offers an easy and entertaing read and Murder Now and Then is a novel that I for one am happy to reccomend.
There are several characters that at first have no apparent connection to one another. However, as their personal paths are revealed you soon discover how each character has crossed paths with one another in some way. Trying to guess this as well as the ultimate murder connection, murderers and the motives make this a thrilling read.
There is much detail put into each character that they each fully develop while you get to know them. This book will make you feel like you are the detective while you enjoy all the surprises and twists as the story unfolds. A highly recommended book with a great ending!
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