Sunday, 15 July 2012

A Death in C Minor (Mick Chandra Mysteries) - Rebecca Yount

Renowned pianist, Jessica Beaumont couldn't take it anymore - her son was killed in a hit and run accident, her husband left her for his secretary and her suicide failed. Needing to leave it all behind, she heads to rural England - Kenwick, Essex - a sleepy village where she can potter around and nurse her wounds. Or so she thinks.

Jessica (Jess) soon makes friends with some of the villagers, namely the 'fish and chips' gang. A mixed bunch but all have money, some more than others. They enjoy walks and meet once a week for their fish and chip supper. But the murder of one Peter Chandler still haunts them. Jess, egged on by her friend Gwen, asks the question - 'what can you tell me of Peter Chandler's murder?' -  an uncomfortable silence hits the table and Pandora's box is opened.

Detective Inspector Mick Chandra and his assistant Elizabeth Chang are responsible for the cold cases for Scotland Yard. Chandra was initially on the Chandler case but could only take ownership of it once the case was put on the back burner. His reputation in Kenwick is infamous and the villagers do not take kindly to his invasion again. Staying in the same rambling country house as Jess, they both try to ignore the attraction but fail. The investigation heats up with a car bomb exploding, a gay informant sleeping with a woman to illicit information, fraud, attempted rape...Kenwick is anything but a quiet village. Will Mick find out who killed Peter? Is it all linked to the Chechnya mafia? And is Jess really the woman for him?

Yount's mystery is a fascinating web of deceit that takes its time to unravel. The main characters - Mick and Jess are vibrant and their relationship is honest, sweet and not wholly romantic. They've both been scared by a failing marriage so are cautious. Mick's detecting skills are marred with underlying racist remarks but it makes him all the more resilient and determined to show his narrow minded colleagues he's good. Jess has her own demons to work through, ones that eventually lead her to resuming her career as the accomplished pianist that she is.

The author has created a story that will lead the reader in several directions with a number of suspects. Her descriptions and overall language used is eloquent and suits the upper middle class setting. Although some English expressions (like 'crikey') are a little twee it doesn't detract from the plot. Akin to Midsomer Murders (a long running UK TV crime show based in an English county), I found this a well written and honest narrative, if perhaps a little too detailed in some parts - recipes, songs sung - but again it adds to the building drama as well as some light relief. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and look forward to adding the Mick Chandra mysteries to my collection of favored crime books. A recommended read.  

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author for review. The opinions expressed are my own and I am not required to give a positive critique.

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