Mirabelle Bevan has recovered from her investigating with Vesta in London (London Calling – Book Two) and has returned to Brighton.
It is 1953.
The Coronation has happened, and England is getting used to having a young Queen to rule over them. Whilst this might be a major change for some, others are used to the rituals they have developed over periods of time and that none of these can be broken and certainly not infiltrated. But then they may have never met Mirabelle Bevan.
There is a heat wave.
A journalist from London has his throat cut in a Brighton Barber’s. His body is taken away speedily by the police.
Superintendent MacGregor never saw the body in situ. He questions the actions of his colleagues?
A cleaner from Brighton is seemingly poisoned and dies an agonising death in the local Freemasons Lodge. In fact Mirabelle sees her die.
Brighton Pavillion is being left to crumble but a television aerial is protruding from the side of it.
All these seemingly random murders and observations cannot possibly be connected, of course they must be. But how and why?
Mirabelle and her assistant Vesta, ably assisted by Bill Turpin and probably with some reluctance Superintendent MacGregor stumble into a world of the secrets and the unknown, of corruption and cover ups.
I have described the two previous books in this series as crime novels with a huge dollop of social history. We have Vesta living in sin with her boyfriend Charlie, who wants more than anything to marry Vesta. All rather radical perhaps for the Nineteen Fifties, especially knowing that Vesta is black and if anything stands out in the world she has involved herself in. I love the fact that we can see people being challenged by Vesta’s presence and how her skin colour means nothing to me when I am reading the story, it means so much more to some of the characters. It was a developing and changing time the Nineteen Fifties and reading books like this, you can see how much has changed and moved forward over time. Sadly you can also see how much has not changed. What is important to note, that this book is not dealing solely with race as an issue, or women in differing roles after the war, it is dealing with all of them in a broad social setting as the background of what these books really are – crime fiction.
A great read, without being to edgy or graphic but enough to keep you wanting to find out the truth, despite the possible options given along the way. I look forward to reading the next one.
There is no doubt that Sara Sheridan researches when writing these books, and for those who perhaps criticise the wrong use of language for the time, or perhaps the odd anomaly are obviously expecting to read history books not historical crime fiction books. Fiction being the clue here.
Many of these ‘howlers’ as someone has described them has passed me by. Does that make me wrong to enjoy these books? Or is it simply I can forgive more easily and enjoy a story?
I love the historical elements to them and was most interested in this one, as I have a little knowledge of freemasonry and having been allowed inside a lodge on more than one occasion, it has never felt like something secret or mysterious. I suppose this is the way to debunk some of these myths. I don’t think this would have worked in the Nineteen Fifties though!
I look forward to seeing where we go in the next book. I have my preorder in for the hardback already – as I want to collect all of these in hardback version. Pray they don’t change their minds with design halfway through the series.