It takes a village to bury a child.
1 September, 1939. As the mass evacuation takes place across Britain, thousands of children leave London for the countryside, but when a little girl vanishes without trace, the reality of separation becomes more desperate and more deadly for those who love her.
In the chaos and uncertainty of war, Josephine struggles with the prospect of change. As a cloud of suspicion falls across the small Suffolk village she has come to love, the conflict becomes personal, and events take a dark and sinister turn.
This is the second novel I read in Nicola Upson’s Josephine Tey Mistery series. While it is a good read, I have to say I enjoyed it a bit less than the other novel I read, Nine Lessons (which is a bit unfair of me because that one was outstanding, in my opinion).
Yet, I did find that the story took a lot to take off, and I did find that it lingered more than was maybe necessary on Josephine and Marta’s relationship.
On the other hand, I find the end to be a bit rush, especially considering the complexity of the situation. The cold case regarding the Herrons is indeed emotionally very complex, and I think it should have deserved more space, which was instead given to the long-winded beginning and to the friendly relationship between Josephine and Margery Allingham (two historical figures).
But the middle of the book was fantastic!
It is not just about a little girl gone missing and what that means for the small community she’s part of, but it’s also about the beginning of WWII and how families in London sent their children away to keep them safe.
The emotional portrayal that Upson gives of this historical fact, and the realistic way she describes the loss of a child, whether for one reason or another, is so moving that I often found a lump in my throat while reading.
This is what Nicola Upson is capable of, and I would have liked the entire story to be like this.
But it was a good read nonetheless. Fantastic setting, both in Suffolk and London. Great character characterisation. Outstanding psychological descriptions. A complex but believable plot.
Recommended.Dear Little Corpses by @nicolaupsonbook (Book Review) A new Josephine Tey investigation, one very close to home. A new war is going to start, but that may not be the worst tragedy #bookreview Click To Tweet
Dear Littel Corpses
She opened the door wider, allowing the light from the hallway to reach his face. ‘You’re right, Chief Inspector – it is late. How can we help you?’
‘A local child has gone missing, and we’re conducting some general door-to-door enquiries to see if anyone has any information that might help.’
‘And yet you know my name, so your call can’t be that general.’
He smiled, and she didn’t know whether to be gratified by the wary respect in his eyes, or to fear it. ‘The child’s name is Annie Ridley,’ he said. ‘Do you know her?’
‘The girl from the shop? Mrs Gladding’s granddaughter?’
‘I know her by sight, nothing more.’ There was a silence as he waited for her to add something, and she tried to second-guess what he was expecting: curiosity seemed to be the most natural approach. ‘When did she go missing?’ she asked.
‘Yesterday, from the school playground. It was while the host families were collecting their evacuees, which is why I’ve come to see you. I gather you were there to collect Betty Stebbing?’
‘That’s correct. She’s upstairs – safe and well, in case you were wondering.’ That was a mistake. The sarcastic inflexion that she had given the words was uncalled for, and he was too intelligent not to recognise a defensiveness beneath the aggression.
The Thursday Quotables was originally a weekly post created by Lisa Wolf for her book blog Bookshelf Fantasy . It isn’t a weekly post anymore, not even for Lisa, but just like her, I still love to share my favourite reads on Thursdays and I still use the original template which included an excerpt.