Sitting Murder (Lancashire Detectives #3) by @awright51 #Historical Whodunit @EndeavourPress #RBRT #FridayReads

Author: A.J. Wright

Published: October 2017 by Endeavor Press

Category: Historical, Murder, Mystery, Book Review

Detective Sergeant Michael Brennan of the Wigan Borough Police has no time for tales of ghosts and the afterlife, or of the dead contacting the living. 

So, when he finds himself investigating the case of a recently widowed young woman, Alice Goodway, who has suddenly developed ‘the Gift’ of mediumship and has received a threatening letter, he embarks on the inquiry with no small degree of scepticism. 

Set in a North-Western English town during the late 19th century, this murder/mystery whodunnit brings the history of the era to life with the terraces of houses, local dialect and a community living in close proximity to one another. The main source of work were the cotton mills and the mines. Alice Goodway, only married a year, has lost her husband, Jack, in a mining accident, which also took the life of her friend’s husband. Since her husband’s death, Alice has become a medium, offering comfort to those who have lost loved ones, through her spiritual contact with Jack.

Jack’s obnoxious aunt Doris has moved in with Alice, supervising the séances and taking payments. When Alice receives a threatening note and her aunt is murdered in her bed, Detective Sergeant Brennan of the Wigan Borough Police Department and his side kick Constable Jaggery are tasked with the investigation.

Brennan’s first impression of Doris Goodway wasn’t a favourable one. He knew, from the brief time he’d been speaking with both Alice Goodway and her late husband’s aunt, that the young widow was still suffering grievously from her tragic loss of three months ago. Yet her way of coping with such grief was quite a novel one, he thought. She has spent much of the intervening time meeting with a number of people in what the aunt referred to as sittings and claiming to have been granted the ability to speak with the spirits of the dead.

Bloody nonsense.

Although this is the third book in the Lancashire Detectives series it works perfectly well as a stand alone and it’s such an enjoyable tale. DS Brennan thinks perhaps Doris wasn’t the intended victim as she was sleeping in the main bedroom. There are several suspects to choose from, including the self-righteous Inspector of Nuisances, who is forcibly against Alice’s séances. As Alice’s notoriety spreads, there are secrets and old wounds to be uncovered in the close knit town, as we follow Brennan’s investigation. Brennan and Jaggery must sift through the clues, information and traumatic memories as they begin to eliminate the suspects one by one.

The writing is accomplished and easy to read, in keeping with the area and time, descriptive and detailed enough to give a real sense of place.  The story has the feel of a vintage whodunit with a host of possible culprits and several unexpected twists. A well paced and plotted story line, with believable, diverse and quite rounded characters, although I’ve perhaps missed the greater depth of Brennan and Jaggery from not having read the previous books. Nevertheless, they are both likeable and engaging characters, making me want to go back and find out more.

I enjoyed Sitting Murder very much and was kept guessing until the surprise ending tied everything together nicely.

I chose to read and review Sitting Murder for Rosie Amber’s book review team, based on a digital copy received from Endeavour Press.

In 2009 A. J. Wright won the 2010 Dundee International Fiction Prize for his Victorian murder mystery Act of Murder. His writing is inspired by his two major interests: all things Victorian and classic works from the Golden Age of crime fiction. He lives near Wigan.

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