This is the second book in the Langham and Dupre series set in the mid nineteen fifties in England. Donald Langham is trying to pluck up the courage to propose to Maria, his girlfriend and he arranges to take her away for a few days to a country hotel in Suffolk so that he can find an ideal spot to propose. Just before they go Langham receives a request for help from an acquaintance and fellow author, Alistair Endicott. Alistair is visiting his father a few miles from Donald and Maria's hotel and they agree to help him find his father who has disappeared.
Edward Endicott is also an author and he seems to have disappeared from his country house without telling anyone where he was going which is unlike him. Alistair would like their help to locate his father as he fears he may have been murdered. The village seems to be in the grip of s self confessed Satanist, Vivian Stafford, who claims to be over one hundred years old. Donald is sceptical and when Stafford is found murdered it seems there may be a simple mundane reason for Edward's disappearance.
I liked the characters in this well written mystery and I thought the atmosphere of an English village in the nineteen fifties was well evoked. There are plenty of eccentric characters populating the village and Donald and Maria's idyllic few days away are far from undisturbed. This is an enjoyable read for fans of the cosy mystery genre and there is no graphic violence or bad language. It is the second book in a series but there is enough background information for the book to be read as a standalone novel. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review purposes.
This is the second book in the series featuring mystery writer Donald Langham and the lovely Maria Dupre, who works with his agent Charles Elder. Following on from “Murder by the Book,” Donald and Maria are most definitely an item and, in fact, Donald is trying to gather the courage to propose. He intends to do so during a trip to the countryside, but their holiday idyll is disturbed by an intriguing phone call.
Alasdair Endicott is a young author and son of Donald’s friend and fellow writer, Edward Endicott. Having travelled to visit his father in the village of Humble Barton, Alasdair finds his study locked, but the room – and house – empty. His father, a previous Hollywood screenwriter, was writing a book about Satanist Vivian Stafford. Stafford had apparently organised a séance, which many people in the village had also attended, but Donald’s sensible and down to earth demeanour immediately make him intrigued. Were Vivian Stafford still alive, he would be about 130 years old and people do not simply vanish from locked rooms in real life…
This series is set in the 1950’s and the author does a great job of recreating the era. Both Donald and Maria are excellent characters and the interplay between them is entertaining. I enjoyed the English village setting, complete with ageing Hollywood actresses, blackmail, secrets and unrequited love. The mystery itself is interesting and the themes of the supernatural are perfectly balanced by the sceptical Donald. I hope there will be more books in this series and look forward to following the adventures of Langham and Dupre. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.
Mystery novelist Donald Langham and his girlfriend Maria Dupre were off on their way to an idyllic weekend in the countryside anyway so making a stop at Endicott's Chase in the small Suffolk village of Humble Barton north of Bury St. Edmunds was not much of a hardship. Alasdair Endicott phoned Langham to say that he arrived at the Chase only to find that his father, Edward, appears to have disappeared and asks for help in locating him. Since Endicott's Chase is close to their final destination, Maria and Donald set off to try to help solve the mystery. When they arrive they find themselves involved with a Satanist from the Victorian era who would have to be at least 120 years old to be alive in July of 1955. No matter how ridiculous it may sound to Donald, the Endicotts and their friends and neighbors believe the spirits conjured up by Vivian Stafford are real and he is having a profound affect on people he comes in contact with.
Sometimes I think an author has a harder time with descriptions of time periods such as this one, 1955, than having a novel set in Roman, Victorian, or medieval times because those time periods can be so easily distinguished with living conditions for the characters. Eric Brown was very much up to the challenge in this novel and I'm glad to say it actually did "feel" as if the time was right. Both Donald Langham and Maria Dupre are credible characters and their differences in personality work well when they are used to play off each other in recapping evidence or speculating on circumstances of the crimes which take place. I enjoyed reading this novel and becoming acquainted with this investigative duo. While the story talks about spiritualism and ghosts, the main focus of the novel is character development and solving the crimes which take place in this rural area.
I received an ARC of this novel through NetGalley.