Book Review: The Temptation (The Anglian Detective Agency #2) by Vera Morris

The TemptationAbout the Book

Where is David Pemberton?

It’s 1971. Thirteen year old David has been missing for two years. It’s now up to Laurel Bowman and Frank Diamond, partners in the newly formed Anglian Detective Agency, to find him. But how do you solve a cold case with no leads? Are there connections to the brutal deaths of three local residents?

As their first big case unravels, they uncover a circle of temptations, destruction and deceit.  But the closer they get to solving the case, the more exposed they are to danger. And now both Laurel’s and Frank’s lives are at risk.

Format: ebook (371 pp.)    Publisher: Accent Press
Published: 17th May 2018  Genre: Crime, Thriller, Mystery

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My Review

The Temptation is the sequel to Some Particular Evil, which introduced many of the characters who also feature in The Temptation.  Readers should be aware that The Temptation contains references to events in the earlier book, including the identity of the culprit.  Therefore, although The Temptation works perfectly well as a standalone, readers who feel inclined to read the whole series should definitely start with Some Particular Evil.

The Temptation starts with the feel of a classic crime era novel but soon gets distinctly darker, especially when a number of unexplained deaths occur.  Soon the members of the newly established Anglian Detective Agency (brought together as a result of events in the first book) start to find links between cases that initially seemed entirely unconnected.   As the bodies pile up, it becomes clear that there are evil forces at work.  I enjoyed the way the book explored the idea of temptation; whether that’s something as innocent as a weakness for bacon sandwiches (Any HP sauce, Mabel?) or a pint of Adnams…or something more illicit and sordid.

Set around Aldeburgh in Suffolk (home of the composer, Benjamin Britten), the author creates a convincing sense of the location through detailed descriptions of the town, its shops, the nearby villages and surrounding countryside.  I particularly liked the way the author conjured up the energy of the sometimes storm-lashed Suffolk coastline.  ‘It was deserted, the sea pounding the shingle; she put a hand over her mouth as the gusts were taking her breath away.  Steel grey waves rushed in, piling on top of each other in their anxiety to reach land.  A few gulls were riding the wind , banking and turning, likes planes in a dog fight.’

Mainly set in 1971, I would have liked to get a similarly vivid sense of the period.  Although there were a few references to television programmes of the time (remember Softly, Softly or The Virginian, anyone?) and national events, I often found the need to remind myself when it was set.  Having said that, towards the end of the book, when motives begin to emerge, I started to see why the author perhaps chose to set the story in this period.

The Temptation is a well-written, adeptly plotted crime mystery with engaging central characters and an interesting setting.  Did I imagine it or, at the end of the book, did the author leave an opening for the story to continue in what would be an intriguing direction?  I know from the author’s website that a third book in the series is planned for 2019…

Vera is appearing at Henley Literary Festival on 1st October 2018 at the ‘Crime and Wine’ event alongside Vaseem Khan, author of Murder at the Grand Raj Palace, and Jessica Fellowes, author of Bright Young Dead (event sold out at time of writing).

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In three words: Suspenseful, atmospheric, engaging

Try something similar…The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana (read my review here)

Vera MorrisAbout the Author

Before becoming a teacher Vera blew soap bubbles in Woolworth’s, cooked in hotels and electro-fished in Welsh rivers. The majority of her teaching career was in a local mixed comprehensive in South Oxfordshire, where she became headteacher. Her interests include writing, gardening, cooking, reading, the theatre, museums and art galleries, and travelling in her campervan.  (Photo credit: author’s website)

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