Friday, 5 December 2014

The Droitwich Deceivers by Kerry Tombs

If Dorothy L Sayers had set her mysteries in the late 1800s, they might have turned out a bit like this. When salt baron, Sir Charles Chilton, discovers his nine year old daughter has been abducted during a stroll through the churchyard with her governess, he is reluctant to call the local bobbies. Instead, Detective Inspector Ravenscroft is asked to investigate, abetted by his colleague Constable Crabbe.

The two are perplexed by the web of secrecy surrounding Hill Court, Sir Charles’s residence in Droitwich, particularly Chilton’s reluctance to allow questioning of staff and his veto on Ravenscroft’s interviewing the child’s fragile mother. And what was going on in the churchyard which caused the governess to leave the girl unattended?

Meanwhile Ravenscroft’s wife Lucy finds a distraught young woman on her doorstep, worried about the whereabouts of her baby. With her husband away in Droitwich, Lucy takes it upon herself to look into the case, which will take her into the nefarious world of baby farming.

Kerry Tombs has put together a classic whodunit, set in Victorian England, and packed with the usual dodgy suspects, quaint characters, and mansions belonging to the rich and titled. What sets The Droitwich Deceivers above the run of the mill in this genre is the lively dialogue, humour and well-paced plotting. Don’t let the tiresomely alliterative titles of the series put you off; if you like a briskly entertaining mystery, Tombs doesn’t put a foot wrong.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: The Droitwich Deceivers

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