Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Murder on the Pier by Merryn Allingham

 
First Line: Flora Steele stood gazing at the buffet table, admiring its plentiful display but longing to be elsewhere.
 
Mystery writer Jack Carrington isn't thrilled to be at the heart of yet another murder investigation, but what can he do? On a day's outing in Brighton with bookshop owner Flora Steele, Flora found the body of young Polly Dakers in the sea below the pier. Polly was a beautiful young woman from their village of Abbeymead who wanted a career in modeling so badly that she'd grasp at any opportunity to achieve her dream. 

The police are convinced that Polly either tripped and fell to her death or jumped and committed suicide. Flora disagrees, and when she disagrees, Jack knows that nothing is going to stop her from conducting her own investigation-- even if her own life is in danger as a result. He's simply got to tag along in an attempt to keep the headstrong amateur sleuth safe. It's the only decent thing to do.

~

I'm happy to report that this second Flora Steele mystery is just as enjoyable as the first, The Bookshop Murder. This time readers are taken to the seaside town of Brighton where Flora and Jack deal with a theatrical group and a line-up of suspects that includes a sugar daddy, a spurned wife, an unsavory character from London, and others. Flora's business has yet to fully recover from what happened in the first book. She is trying to drive sales up by various means, but her investigation here in Murder on the Pier kept her away too much yet again. Either Flora is going to be a detective, or she's going to be a bookshop owner. So far the two occupations aren't blending together well. I'm looking forward to seeing how the author deals with this in future books.

Once again, the telling little details about the era add depth to the story. I think most Americans, if they're even aware that there was rationing in this country and in the United Kingdom, believe everything snapped back to normal immediately after World War II ended. It snapped back a lot faster here in the United States, but it took years for rationing to end in the United Kingdom. Meat rationing had ended just the year before (1955), and now Flora lets us know just how precious a brand-new pair of shoes is. Besides, her main source of transportation is Betty, her bicycle. 

Readers learn more about Jack in this second book as he and Flora become even more comfortable with each other. When Jack's old flame arrives on his doorstep, I narrowly avoided rolling my eyes, and I'm glad I did. I really like how Jack dealt with the situation. The repartee between Flora and Jack is one of the strongest parts of this series. That and the presence of a young boy named Charlie. With Jack feeling ever more protective of Flora, I do believe he should formulate some sort of fitness regimen to build up his strength and endurance. Why? Because he spent a lot of time dragging Flora out of some hair-raising situations in this book-- none of which were what I call TSTL (Too Stupid To Live).

Interesting characters? Check. Strong setting and historical detail? Check. Fun dialogue? Check. What about the mystery? Well, it's a good'un, too. Although I was blinded by the light of deduction before Flora, she was nipping close at my heels. So yes, I'm looking forward to my next visit to Abbeymead to see what Jack and Flora (and Charlie) get up to next.

Murder on the Pier by Merryn Allingham
eISBN: 9781800198852
Bookouture © 2021
eBook, 270 pages

Historical Mystery, #2 Flora Steele mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Net Galley

8 comments:

  1. Nice that the sophomore effort is as good as the first, Cathy. I have to say, I have a soft spot (wonder why? ;-) ) for crime writers as main characters. And the story itself sounds nicely plotted and put together. I can see why this one ticked a lot of your boxes.

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    1. It's a very good choice for readers who like British traditional mysteries in the vein of Miss Marple.

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  2. Happy to hear that this is proving to be an enjoyable series with a promising future. That period is really an interesting one to set the stories in, too. I think we all forget sometimes just how different the world was only those few decades ago.

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    1. I have to admit that I hadn't done much reading about the UK during WW2, and I had the mistaken impression that their rationing ended when the war did. Wrong!

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  3. Okay, you've convinced me. I really have to look up this series. It sounds fascinating.

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    1. I hope you get a chance to read and enjoy it, Dorothy.

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  4. Sounds like fun! Characters and interesting repartee and a good mystery--what's not to like?

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