About the Book
December, 1939. Having solved the case of the Suffolk Vampire, Inspector Betty Church and her colleagues at Sackwater Police Station have settled back down to business. There’s the elderly Mr Fern who keeps losing his slippers, Sylvia Satin’s thirteenth birthday party to attend and the scintillating case of the missing bookmark to solve. Though peace and quiet are all well and good, Betty soon finds herself longing for some cold-blooded murder.
When a bomb is dropped on a residential street, both peace and quiet are broken and it seems the war has finally reached Sackwater. But Betty cannot stop the Hun, however hard she tries. So when the body of one of the bomb victims is found stretched out like an angel on Sackwater’s beach, Betty concentrates on finding the enemy much closer to home…
Format: Hardcover (432 pages) Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication date: 11th July 2019 Genre: Historical Fiction, Crime, Mystery
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The Room of the Dead is the second in the author’s Betty Church Mystery series. True to form, I’m reading the series out of order, having read the first and third books – Betty Church And The Suffolk Vampire and The Ghost Tree – before this one. However, at least I can reassure readers new to the series that The Room of the Dead works perfectly well as a standalone. There are brief references to events in the first book, but nothing that would spoil your enjoyment of this one.
The book sees the return of the mostly hapless collection of individuals who constitute the Sackwater police force: Constable ‘Dodo’ Chivers (as barmy as her name suggests), Constable Box, Constable Bank-Anthony (‘Bantony’), Constable Rivers, identical twins Constables Lysander and Algernon Grinder-Snipes, Sergeant Briggs (‘Brigsy’) and the perpetual thorn in Betty’s side, Inspector Sharkey (referred to as ‘Old Scrapie’, although not within his hearing).
You’ll have deduced by now that the author has a penchant for giving his characters unusual names such as Simnal Cranditch and Garrison Orchard. And if you’ve read any of the author’s other books you’ll be prepared for the frequent puns, wordplay and quirky chapter titles. As a John Buchan fan, my favourite was ‘The Twenty-Nine Steps’, although where the other ten went I’ve no idea!
When it comes to solving cases, once again Betty demonstrates she has more brains in her little finger than all of her officers put together. And she’s going to need all that brain power as the investigation gets increasingly complex. Fans of the author’s Gower Street Detective series, will be pleased to see March Middleton, Betty’s godmother, turn up to lend a hand and demonstrate the miraculous powers of observation and deduction she learned from the Gower Street detective himself, Sidney Grice. I love Betty as a character and was delighted at – hold the front page – a hint of romance in the air… or among the sand dunes to be more precise.
The Room of the Dead is engagingly silly at times and some readers may tire of the frequent fun poked at the Suffolk accent, but it’s entertaining nonetheless and the solution to the mystery turns out to be slightly darker than you may have expected.
I received a review copy courtesy of Head of Zeus via NetGalley.
In three words: Engaging, humorous, ingenious
Try something similar: The Custard Corpses by M. J. Porter
About the Author
M.R.C. Kasasian was raised in Lancashire. He has had careers as varied as a factory hand, wine waiter, veterinary assistant, fairground worker and dentist. He is the author of the much loved Gower Street Detective series, five books featuring personal detective Sidney Grice and his ward March Middleton, as well as two other Betty Church mysteries, Betty Church and the Suffolk Vampire and The Room of the Dead. He lives with his wife, in Suffolk in the summer and in Malta in the winter.(Photo/bio: Publisher author page)
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