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Sunday, 17 May 2009

Murder in House

I stayed up late last night to finish Veronica Heley's latest Ellie Quicke mystery - Murder in House. This is a darker mystery than usual but still just as gripping as the rest of the series. Ellie has a terrible cold and would rather wrap up warm and stay inside when new husband Thomas asks her to talk to Ursula who is staging a sit in at a church. Ursula asks Ellie to look into a murder which has been treated as an accident and to find her fried Mia who has disappeared.

Ellie can't see how she can solve the problems - or even whether she wants to. But she does as Ursula asks and returns her engagement ring to her former fiance who behaves in an extremely strange fashion and Ellie's curiosity is aroused. She quickly tracks Mia down and finds the mystery is even more complicated and unpleasant than it first appeared. It also involves an exceedingly nasty local business man who is putting pressure on Ellie's cousin Roy to come up with a large sum of money.

There are some brilliant scenes involving Ellie's ruthless daughter Diana with Ellie increasingly getting the upper hand. All the usual characters appear including son-in-law Stuart, cousin Roy and wife Felicity, Ellie's friends Kate and Armand and ageing housekeeper Rose. The climax of the book is perfect and shows Ursula to be a more complex character than at first appeared. The dialogue throughout the book is full of humour and humanity and Thomas is shown at his best. There are some marvellous minor characters as well.

I love this series though some might find it too tame. There is bad language only by implication and there is an emphasis on the human virtues and a belief in God but the books are not pious and Ellie is never a saint in human form. She doesn't always behave well and is all the more believable and likable for this. This story involves rape, murder muggings and attempts by a pillar of the community to bribe and cheat his way through life. So the nastier aspects of human behaviour are not glossed over they are merely not described in excessive detail - leaving it to the reader's imagination. I loved it and think it is one of the best in this series.

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