When a man dumps a body on a beach in full view of onlookers, the investigation that follows throws up a number of dark twists for DCI Henry Johnstone.
January 5, 1930. On a cold, grey winter morning, a mysterious man walks along Bournemouth beach carrying a bundle in his arms. He lays it carefully on the shoreline and calmly walks away. The man has dumped a body.
The dead young woman is Faun Moran, a wildchild in her twenties wearing a sparkling cocktail gown. But Faun was supposedly killed in a car crash after leaving a party attended by other wealthy bright young things the previous autumn. So who was the young woman in the car, and where has Faun Moran been all this time?
Still recovering from the trauma of his last case, DCI Henry Johnstone returns to work to solve this baffling mystery. But as he and DS Mickey Hitchens investigate, the path to the truth is darker and twistier than they could ever have imagined.
It’s a well built murder mystery. Not much in the way of setting, but enough to feel the time.
It’s one of those stories that absolutely focus on the mystery plot, and I don’t complain about it. Though I have to admit that I always appreciate when some space is set aside for a closer look to the human side, especially of the detective.
Here, glimpses into Henry Johnstone’s life occasionally insert into the narration, enough to make me really curious – but not enough to let me really connect with the character.
And yet, I’ll admit that the characters are the strong part of this story. Yes, the plot is solid, but the characters are very very good. They are real people with real desires, real fears and very real flaws. Faun, the victim, who appeared alive in the many flashbacks, is such an interesting character. She’s a go-getter, and still she’s also very vulnerable.
In a way, I almost felt that the characters directly connected to the this mystery were stronger than the recurring characters of the series, but this certainly comes from the fact that the recurring characters will have more time to ‘unfold’.
I actually loved Mick and Henry’s relationship. Henry is a taciturn, quire rough person, who don’t seem to get along with people very much, though he is indeed a sympathetic character. So, Mick, who in many regards is his exact opposite – he’s easy-going, amusing, he likes to joke – is his perfect partner. And if fact, they are a formidable pair of detective when it comes to digging up the truth about a murder.
All in all, I enjoyed it, and I’ll read more in the series, if I’ll have the chance.
Bright Young Thing
Henry was about to press further but Mickey interrupted again and, looking at Mal, Henry realized that he was correct to do so. Mal Everson would not stand much questioning and already he was exhausted and becoming distressed. Some men, Henry thought, were just more fragile than others and that was no fault of theirs. All men had their breaking point and it seemed Mal Everson had met with his when his car had come off the road and crashed down the hill.
‘So you arrived at about eleven,’ Mickey said gently. ‘Tell me all you can. What happened after that?’
‘There was a buffet se out so we had a late breakfast or early lunch. I had one champagne cocktail. To be truthful I’m not that keen. I had coffee and I think, I think I ate eggs, perhaps some toast.’ He looked at Pat for confirmation and the woman nodded.
‘Not everyone was up – the party had apparently gone on till about four in the morning. Friday night there was a theme, Ancient Rome or some such, and some guests hadn’t gone to bed until the servants were starting their day. I suppose people started drifting down around one and other had lunch in their room.’
‘And you saw Faun, when?’
‘Oh, I asked one of the maids to tell her we’d arrived,’ Pat said, ‘and she came down still in her dressing gown while we were eating.’
Pat paused, a faint smile on her lips. ‘She was pleased to see us,’ she said. ‘She hugged me and gave Mal a kiss on the cheek and then we sat and ate and dran coffee for an hour and then when she went up to get dressed I went up and chatted to her while she got ready. She was happy,’ Pad added, before they could ask.