1962, Brighton. Colin Crampton, the crime reporter of the Brighton Evening Chronicle, is going through a slow patch, so he’s even willing to follow up a tip concerning the disappearance of the owner of the local crazy golf course. Well, it’s better than another story on the lewd goings-on under the pier…
He wasn’t expecting to find a story on Septimus Darke, the local crime-lord. He wasn’t expecting to find a story on corruption in local government. And he certainly wasn’t expecting to find a dead body. Now he faces a race against time to find a murder – and a front page story. He’s got a deadline to meet after all…
Yesterday saw an interview with Peter Bartram, the author of Headline Murder, and here’s the review of his first crime novel. So, how was it?
A lot of fun, in fact. There’s a light touch to proceedings, as you’d expect from the use of the word “cozy” on the blurb on the back. I worry about the use of that word to promote mystery novels, as I know it puts some people off. What’s wrong with using the word “traditional” or even “classic” when it comes to describing mysteries? Maybe that would put off the people who would buy it due to being called “cozy”?
Anyway, this is refreshingly free from the quirks that occur in a lot of cozies. Whilst there is a vein of humour running through the book, it’s also a period piece of life on a newspaper in the 1960s. And a properly clued mystery as well.
The narrative voice is an entertaining one, reflecting both the seriousness of the situations while still maintaining the sense of humour. It’s rarely laugh-out-loud funny, but I found myself smiling a lot as I read it.
The mystery, as I said, is properly clued, but pretty straightforward to my eye – I don’t think the armchair sleuth will be fooled. I missed the importance of one clue, but spotted the later ones. But there’s a lot more to the tale than just whodunit – the final chapters tying up all of the strands of the tale are extremely satisfying.
So, an enjoyable entry into what I hope will be a long series. Highly Recommended.