Eighteen-year-old library assistant Jan Christopher’s life is to change on a rainy Friday evening in July 1971, when her legal guardian and uncle, DCI Toby Christopher, gives her a lift home after work. Driving the car, is her uncle’s new Detective Constable, Laurie Walker – and it is love at first sight for the young couple.
But romance is soon to take a back seat when a baby boy is taken from his pram, a naked man is scaring young ladies in nearby Epping Forest, and an elderly lady is found, brutally murdered…
Are the events related? How will they affect the staff and public of the local library where Jan works – and will a blossoming romance survive a police investigation into murder?
It doesn’t seem quite right to call this ‘cosy’ when it involves a murder and a missing baby. Especially when the outcome isn’t all happiness and light. But this was mostly a very pleasant read and the dynamics between the main characters are perfect. I’m glad this is the first of a new series.
Jan (real name January – I love that name) Christopher lives with her aunt and uncle after her father was brutally shot to death in front of her when she was a young child. Her mum died soon after. Dad was a police officer and her uncle just happens to be DCI Toby Christopher of the Chingford police force. Jan works in the local library. Uncle Toby’s driver is on sick leave and his new driver is the handsome, Detective Constable Laurie Walker and for Laurie and Jan it is love at first sight. I found their escapades and budding romance really lovely. Laurie seems a bit accident prone, which was rather endearing.
The year is 1971 – the year I took my A levels – and I can see from the author information that Helen and I are the same age. Therefore as well as loving the story I also adored the nostalgia, which brought back so many memories and with which I could identify. There was a fair bit of humour in the story as well as sadness, which I loved. The stories about Gloria, Eddie and Mr and Mrs Hurst were very funny.
The main story revolves around an elderly lady who frequents the library and cuts out the food coupons from the newspaper. Then one day she rushes out the door with the newspaper still in her hand and soon after it is Jan and Laurie who find her murdered in her own home. Outside a woman with a baby in a pram is going to the shop to buy formula milk, only it is after 11 pm and Jan finds it all a bit strange.
In the meantime Jan has seen a flasher in the woods and is convinced it’s Gloria’s boyfriend Eddie. What is the connection between these events? Will she and Laurie and of course Uncle Toby solve the mystery?
It’s a great story with a cast of likeable characters. I shall look forward to the next instalment.
Many thanks to @damppebbles for inviting me to be part of #damppebblesblogtours
PS Helen, if you ever get to read this review, George Harrison was my favourite Beatle as well. Obviously great minds think alike.
About the Author
First published in 1994, Helen became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK) with the sequel, Harold the King (US: I Am The Chosen King) being novels that explore the events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy is a fifth-century version of the Arthurian legend, and she writes a nautical adventure/fantasy series, The Sea Witch Voyages. She is now branching out into the quick read novella, ‘Cosy Mystery’ genre with her new venture, the Jan Christopher Murder Mysteries, set in the 1970s, with the first in the series, A Mirror Murder (due to be published in early 2021) incorporating her, often hilarious, memories of working as a library assistant.
Her non-fiction books are Pirates: Truth and Tales and Life of A Smuggler. She lives in an eighteenth-century farmhouse in North Devon, runs Discovering Diamonds, a review blog for historical fiction, and occasionally gets time to write…
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Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3czU5gx