It’s very strange, reading a crime novel that’s set almost literally on my doorstep.
“Walking back along the promenade after a trip to the library, Rose stopped to watch the sea, standing a safe distance away from where it was sweeping up over the railings. It was a high tide, the water choppy but topped with a clear azure sky. Further down children screamed as they tried to dodge the spray but failed. A pair of herring gulls perched on the railing, their heads into the wind. They flew off, drifting into an air current until the dog that had run towards them scampered past, then they returned to the same piece of rail. “
That’s my library and my promenade, where a certain dog always runs to see off the gulls. Janie Bolitho captured my hometown, as it was back in 1999, absolutely perfectly.
And she created an engaging heroine, who I could quite happily believe is still living just a little further around the bay.
Rose is a youngish widow who is gradually picking up the strands of a new life. She has good friends, she earns a living as a photographer, and she has taken up painting – always her first love but not the easiest way to earn a living – again.
A new artist friend encouraged Rose to go back to painting with oils, and Rose decided that a crumbling mine shaft would be a good subject.
That’s why she was out alone in the country when she heard a scream.
Rose called the police, but they found nothing. DCI Jack Pearce accused her of wasting police time, but Rose was certain of what she heard.
The situation was uncomfortable. Rose and Jack were friends who might have become something more but she pulled back. And he didn’t.
Then there was a murder. A young artists’ model was found dead. Suspicion soon fell on the ex-lover she wanted back. And on Rose, who had a friendship with him that could easily turn into something more.
A second body was found. In the mine shaft.
As the police investigated, and Rose tried to work out what had happened, it became clear that the community of artists had many secrets and jealousies.
This a simple and uncomplicated mystery, built on traditional lines and brought to life by interesting and eminently believable cast of characters.
It was lovely to drop back into Rose’s life for a while, and to see my hometown through her eyes.
Jane Bolitho once again caught Cornwall and the Cornish perfectly, and I can feel the love with which she wrote.
I have to say that this isn’t her strongest story.
I have no problem with the main plot strand. I worked out quite early on who the murderer must be, but the mystery was solid, I was happy to watch events unfold, and there was a nice little twist at the end.
But I did have a problem with the explanation of what happened at the mine shaft. There was rather too much contrivance.
Without that I could have read an account of what happened in the local paper and believed it. Utterly.
I’m not rushing back to the library to pick up the next book in the series, but I will be reading it. Not so much for the mystery, but because I want to follow Rose’s life, and because I love seeing my world through her eyes.
“The drizzle was gentle on her face and misted her hair as she walked up Market Jew Street. At the top she turned into Chapel Street and was cheered by a lively conversation with Tim and Katherine who ran the bookshop where she called to collect the two hardback novels she had ordered as a Christmas present to herself .”
We still have that drizzle. And we still have that lovely bookshop …