Sitting Murder was originally published in 2017 and choosing this book for my Throwback Thursday choice has reminded me I have the next book on my kindle.
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.
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.
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.
But just as Brennan and his burly colleague, Constable Jaggery, consider how to proceed with the case, something much more sinister takes place… a murder, in Alice’s own home.
Who would commit such a crime?
Could it be one of the seven ‘visitors’ who had been to sittings with Alice and not liked what they had heard?
Or the interfering and sanctimonious Inspector of Nuisances who strongly disapproved of the séances?
There are a lot of old wounds opened and painful memories shared with Brennan and Jaggery as they meticulously gather the information they need to solve the case. The challenge will be narrowing down the suspects, using clues from both the living and the dead…