Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs at http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/
Terry has been reading A Shortcut to Murder by William Savage
A Shortcut to Murder by William Savage
The third murder mystery set in 18th century rural Norfolk, in which the now wealthy and ever inquisitive doctor, Adam Bascom, sets out to discover the truth behind evil doings.
As with the other books in this series, A Shortcut to Murder is filled with delightfully portrayed characters of the time: the chattering ladies seeking marriage for their offspring, girls either fashion conscious and empty-headed, or frustrated by how the society into which they are born places limits on their lives. There are the village folk, the innkeepers and farmers, all aware of their station in life and suspicious of folk from elsewhere ~ not unlike the Norfolk of some 250 years later.
I do like reading about the history of a county I know well, within these books; only a few years ago I ate at The Three Pigs at Edgefield, mentioned in the book, though I think it is now just called The Pigs, and I daresay the decor has changed! More interesting still, an innkeeper’s wife in Cley supplies Adam with information about the area in Tudor times. Adam may have been eager to change the subject, but I wanted to know more!
Usually with Mr Savage’s books I feel that the plot is secondary to the characterisation and dialogue, but with this one I gave a silent round of applause to the clever plot, too ~ I am not much of a one for unravelling mysteries, but this one had me most intrigued and I thought it was artfully put together. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the characters as much as usual, particularly the wealthy and idle Scudamore twins. The only downside I ever find with books by this author is the occasional over-egging of the plot detail, with every intricate detail discussed once too often, and in the middle there was a patch when I felt the dialogue was too information loaded and I wanted to say, ‘oh, get on with it’, but then it very swiftly did, and I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the book.
I think that this would be enjoyed by all lovers of the historical period, by anyone who respects a well thought out mystery, and, of course, by those like myself who love Norfolk.
After helping solve two murders, 18th-century Norfolk physician Dr Adam Bascom just wants to get back to his medical work. Fate, however, seems determined to keep him off-balance. His brother, Giles, is called upon as magistrate to investigate the death of Sir Jackman Wennard, rake, racehorse breeder and baronet.
The man’s son insists his father died by falling from his horse in a hunting accident. The coroner’s medical examiner has other ideas. He says the baronet died from a single blow to the neck hard enough to snap his spine in two—a blow that came from the front. To Giles, Adam is the perfect choice to give a second opinion and resolve the disagreement.
Adam is soon convinced it was murder, so agrees to help his brother find the killer. This is going to be no easy task. For a start, the crime appears impossible. How could the blow be delivered with such force when the man was on the back of a large horse? How could the killer have known where and when to lie in wait? No one could have foreseen Sir Jackman’s movements on the morning of his death—not even the man himself. If some kind of trap was used, how did it kill so cleanly, then disappear within moments?
The unresolved questions keep piling up. Why did Sir Jackman Wennard abruptly ride off on his own in the opposite direction to everyone else? Why was he returning from yet another direction? Where had he been? Did the gunshots some say they heard have anything to do with what happened? Did they even exist?
Faced with an impossible crime, conflicting evidence and the hostility of the dead man’s son, who refuses even to discuss his father’s death, Adam turns once more to his friends and contacts. Along the way, he faces growing emotional conflicts as well as factual ones. His mother is determined to find him a wife; he doesn’t want to marry; and he hasn’t yet come close to understanding his real feelings.
In the midst of these uncertainties, drama turns into crisis. Everything known about Sir Jackman Wennard and his family is thrown into confusion by an event from the man’s past. The Wennard family fragments, his son is reported kidnapped and the whole neighbourhood is suddenly plagued by a rash of highway robberies. As events plunge out-of-control towards the inevitable confrontation between past and present, can Adam pull his ideas together and move fast enough to prevent more lives being put at risk?
Find the author on Twitter