Friday, 13 February 2015

The English Lady Murderers' Society by Jim Williams

Reviewer: Barbara Scott Emmett, author of The Land Beyond Goodbye, Don’t Look Down and Delirium: The Rimbaud Delusion. (

What We Thought: Janet Bretherton may or may not have murdered her husband. She goes to live in France where she meets several other women who may have done or be considering doing likewise. Even if they haven’t all gone quite as far as murder, though, they do all still harbour secrets.

In the village of Puybrun (a location Williams has used before, in Recherche) the women, all exiles from England, gather regularly to pass on skills and information. In addition to Janet, there is Belle whose husband, Charlie, may be imaginary (or dead); Carol, who may have done away with a previous boyfriend and has slept with a lot of men called Dave; Earthy, an old hippy who has run away from a commune; Joy, who tries to hide how truly awful her husband is; and Veronica and Poppy, who sensibly love each other, keeping men out of the equation altogether.

When a much younger man shows interest in 60 year old Janet, she wonders what he is after. It seems, though, that all he wants is to dance. Throw in a British detective investigating a fraud involving Janet’s husband’s business, a case of mistaken identity exploited for gain and a lot of local colour, and you have the delightful mélange that is The English Lady Murderers' Society.

This novel is witty, elegantly written and cleverly plotted. The characters all come alive on the page and draw us into their stories. Williams claims an in-depth knowledge of, and delight in, older women and this shines through in every word. A true piece of reading pleasure.

You’ll enjoy this if you like: Unusual crime novels, clever writing, Williams’ other books.

Avoid if you dislike: Books about older women.

Ideal accompaniments: A glass of chilled white wine and some dance music.

Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Mystery & Suspense.

Available from Amazon.

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