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A Commonplace Killing Audio Download – Unabridged

4.0 out of 5 stars 165 customer reviews

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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sian Busby's final book is a tremendous achievement both as a novel and as an example of what an indomitable spirit can achieve. First, the book itself: it's a very good read, with a strong narrative and a stronger sense of place and time: north London, as tatty and battered as its inhabitants immediately after the end of the war. The body of a woman is found on wasteland, the police investigating wearily assume it's a sexual assault that went wrong. But it turns out not to be the case, so who is the dead woman? A prostitute? If not, how did a "respectable" woman end up strangled?

Busby's characters are a bit squalid, like their physical surroundings; morally compromised (petty criminals, fences, spivs, sleeping with people they shouldn't) but one of Busby's hallmarks as a writer is her empathy with, understanding of and compassion for people and choices that many would dismiss with a judgmental word or two. And so you find yourself caring about the war-traumatised thief, about the diminished husband, about the hard-edged victim, about her brittle, feckless lodger, about the weary police officer who can't do a good enough job.

As well as standing as an achievement in its own right as wonderfully conceived and executed book, A Commonplace Killing is also an extraordinary achievement for Busby, who was dying of cancer as it was being completed. When she died in September 2012, her husband, BBC business editor Robert Peston, found the final part of the book handwritten in her notebook; he transcribed the final pages so that the book could be published posthumously. As he explains in the foreword to the novel, "I did not know, until reading handwriting as familiar as my own and hearing her voice in my head, that she had finished this exquisite work.
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By ACB(swansea) TOP 100 REVIEWER on 4 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback
In post-war Holloway, north London in 1946, two boys discover the body of a woman on a bomb site. The immediate response from the police is that it is a sex-related murder "a commonplace killing", a remark tossed in by a detective in a casual, dismissive way. The site was a haunt for courting couples. Detective Inspector Jim Cooper may be disgruntled at the post-war crime boom and his own shabby, lonely life but he is street-wise. He has a pragmatic view of lawbreakers - they do it because they can - and is determined to find the culprit who strangled Lillian Frobisher along with the motive, sensing it is someone in the locality.

Lillian's husband, Walter, has returned home from war to a bomb-damaged house, a wife who no longer loves him, a frail incontinent mother-in-law and a lodger who does not pay her rent. His prospects are not bright. Lillian is desperate to escape this scenario. She even misses the odd fling that she had during the war. Now her domestic life is depressing; rationing , shortages, queuing ,the black market are everyday events. The story leading to Lillian's murder is set against the bleak and authentic atmosphere of a run down crime-ridden area filled with vivid imagery of a ruined area. Sian Busby's narrative utilises the dialect of the times portraying in graphic detail the features of the location 'heavy with loneliness, shadowy with the ruin of lives and homes'. She draws her characters in a way they can readily be identified with by the reader.

Sian Busby has written an impressive authoritative novel of authenticity. It is melancholic, atmospheric and heart-rending. The circumstances surrounding the publication of this book are well-known and add to the sense of loss and poignancy.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's been a long time since I sat up half the night to finish a book, but I did with this one. Not only does it leave you guessing about the perpetrator until almost the end, it brings the taste and feel of what it must have been like to live in post-war Britain. Good storyline, brilliant descriptive writing. Would definitely recommend.
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Format: Paperback
I am full of admiration for this author who wrote this novel under very difficult circumstances. She was at the time suffering from the effects of lethal lung cancer and sadly passed away before its publication. However, her husband, Robert Peston (the BBC journalist and Economics Editor) found her hand-written manuscript for the end of A Commonplace Killing and transcribed it so that the book could be completed posthumously.

In the opening chapter we are made aware that the setting is London. It is the summer of 1946. A woman's body has been found by some children playing on a disused bomb site and DDI Jim Cooper is tasked with leading the investigation.

It took me a while to get used to the style and pacing of this novel. However, once I'd worked my way through the first few chapters, I got into the flow of this crime drama. Although I am far too young to have been around at that particular period, I did, nevertheless, feel I had been given a realistic insight into the lives of the working-class folk who had to survive and make ends meet during those rather bleak economic times. Also, I thought the writer effectively moved the story back and forth between different time-frames in order to slowly peel away the events leading up to the tragic death of the murdered woman.

This rather gloomy tale was well written but could have done with a injection of humour for my liking. All in all though, this was a satisfying read and made a welcome change to the kind of crime novels I am usually drawn to.
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