B just had to be for Bolitho – it’s such a local name. I live near lands owned by the Bolitho estate, and I was born in the Bolitho Maternity Hospital.
And so for letter B in my Crime Fiction Alphabet I am writing about a local author – Janie Bolitho. She was born a few miles up the coast at Falmouth but she lived for many years, like me, on the Penzance seafront.
Last year I read Snapped in Cornwall, the first of seven mysteries featuring Rose Trevelyan, and I liked it more than enough to seek out the second mystery – Framed in Cornwall.
Rose still lives just a mile away from me, in the fishing port of Newlyn. She’s a photographer, a would-be artist, and a young widow. I could I think Briar and I might bump into rose when we walk along the seafront towards Newlyn. Yes, she’s believable, and engaging too, so I always wanted to know what would happen to her, what she would find out, and I kept turning the pages.
Rose and Dorothy Pengelly were good friends, and Rose was horrified when she discovered her friend dead in her armchair. A sudden heart attack she thinks, or maybe a stroke. But the police say it was suicide. Rose will not, cannot believe it.
But what else could it be? Who would want to kill a harmless elderly widow?
Dorothy’s home was remote and so she didn’t see too many people.
Her younger son Martin, a simple soul, lived in an old abandoned caravan not far from his mother and visited her often. But her elder son Peter, who had a wife and children, lived not much further away and she hardly ever saw him.
Dorothy usually only ventured out as far as the village shop. The shopkeeper was friendly, but he had been distracted as the woman he lived with, who was the cornerstone of his life was seriously, terminally ill. But if she ever needed to go further she had a good friend and neighbour, Jobber Hicks, who would give her a lift.
A very well drawn, very well balanced cast.
But could one of them have killed Dorothy?
Or could Dorothy’s death have been connected with the man who came to visit her just days before she died?
Rose is determined to find out what really happened and, of course, in time, she uncovers the truth.
Framed in Cornwall is a good, solid traditional mystery. There’s just enough going on to keep it interesting, and the characters, their relationships, their behaviour all rang true. Cornwall and the Cornish captured beautifully.
A few small niggles – some quite unnecessary withholding of information that Rose knew from the reader, and an even more unnecessary woman in peril drama at the end – were more that offset by the things that Janie Bolitho got spot on.
Her plot was very well constructed, but what made it sing was that there was more here than just a mystery. There some intriguing developments in Rose’s life and, maybe best of all, there were well told, and quietly moving, emotional stories.
And all of those strands were balanced quite beautifully.
I’ll definitely pick up the third book in the series, to find out what happens in Rose’s life and to see just how she finds her way into another mystery.
The Crime Fiction Alphabet is hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise.
“Each week, beginning Monday 10 January 2011, you have to write a blog post about crime fiction related to the letter of the week …”
So next week, C is for … ?