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Posted by on 27 Feb, 2024 in British Crime, Crime | 0 comments



Fans of cozier British mysteries and domestic suspense will enjoy these two early March releases!

The Antique Hunter’s Guide To Murder by C. L. Miller (Macmillan, 27 February 2024)

C. L. (Cara) Miller makes an impressive debut with her first murder mystery, The Antique Hunter’s Guide To Murder (Macmillan, 27 February 2024)

Following a tragic incident in Cairo twenty years ago, Freya Lockwood has avoided the quaint English village in which she grew up in, and her estranged mentor and former friend Arthur Crockleford. However, when she receives word that the knowledgeable antiques dealer has died in suspicious circumstances, she decides to return to the village and her eccentric Aunt Carole, who was Arthur’s staunch friend.

The death initially seems like an accident, but when a letter from Arthur is delivered, sent just days before his death, and an ordinary pine chest concealing his journals, including reservations in her name, are revealed, Freya begins to suspect foul play. Suddenly she finds herself sucked back into a life she’d sworn to leave behind. Joining forces with Carole, Freya follows Arthur’s clues and her instincts to an old manor house for an ‘antiques enthusiasts weekend’. Things, however, are not as they seem at the manor house: the antiques are bad reproductions and the other guests are menacing and secretive. With time ticking down, Freya and Carole try to uncover Arthur’s murderer before someone else is killed.

The Antique Hunter’s Guide To Murder is great fun. Although not the sort of crime novel that I would usually seek out, I was quickly caught up in the plot and happily swept along to the unexpected final reveal. Cara utilises several points of view in telling the story, but Freya is the main character and her narration drives the plot and the feel of the book. She is a great central voice, a mix of uncertainty and astute observations, and her wry and tough observations add good depth to the story.

There are plenty of twists and turns, and hints of past crimes that are only gradually revealed. The story moves along at a decent pace, and is helped by the occasional flashback. It was not as twee as I expecting, and there are some good amusing moments and several witty observations. As is often the case, there are some stretches of credibility, but not enough to detract greatly from the story.

Cara’s late mother, Judith Miller of Antiques Roadshow and Miller’s Antiques Price Guide fame, provided inspiration and advice for the book, and there are plenty of fascinating insights into antiques and the world of collecting, which add to the pleasure.

In all, The Antique Hunter’s Guide To Murder is a really enjoyable mystery that sets a high bar for crime fiction debuts in 2024.

The Antique Hunter’s Guide To Murder is released on 27 February 2024 in Australia and 29 February 2024 in the United Kingdom.

Has Anyone Seen Charlotte Salter? by Nicci French (Simon & Schuster, 29 February 2024)

The husband and wife writing team known as Nicci French are renowned for their literate, compelling, psychological thrillers and their latest, Has Anyone Seen Charlotte Salter? (Simon & Schuster, 29 February 2024), is sure to appeal to their many fans.

The book is set over three time periods. The first is 1990, when beautiful and vivacious Charlotte Salter fails to turn up to her husband Alec’s 50th birthday party. Charlotte’s children, Etty, Niall, Paul and Ollie are concerned, but her husband is not initially perturbed. When the body of a neighbour, Duncan Ackerley, is found floating in a nearby river, the police quickly decide that Duncan and Charlotte must have been having an affair before he killed her and committed suicide, even though her body is never found.

In 2022, Etty returns home to the small East Anglian village where she grew up to help move her father into a care home. Now in his eighties, Alec has dementia and often mistakes his daughter for her mother. Etty and her siblings want to finally escape from the uncertainty and speculation of that night in 1990, but those hopes are dashed when the children of Duncan Ackerley decide to do a podcast about Charlotte’s disappearance.

Disaster follows the podcast and later in 2022 the police send Detective Inspector Maud O’Connor to East Anglia to take over the investigation and resolve what happened, once and for all.

This is a slow burn of a crime novel, which only really picks up its pace, for me, once the police investigation starts. The final third, or so, is quite gripping as the police work their way through the original botched investigation and uncover secrets and lies, and the ending produces some good surprises.

As with all of French’s books, the characters are well fleshed out and convincing, especially Etty and the two police officers who conduct the review into Charlotte’s disappearance. The descriptions of the small village and its inhabitants are evocative and believable, and the French duo are very good at capturing the rhythms of life and relationships.

Well written and cleverly plotted, Has Anyone Seen Charlotte Salter? is an intricate crime novel that will appeal to those who enjoy taking their time with a twisty murder mystery. It would make for a good television show.

Has Anyone Seen Charlotte Salter? is released in Australia and the United Kingdom on 29 February 2024.

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