Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The Demented Lady Detectives' Club

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

What We Thought: There are two narrative strands in this novel. One is written from the point of view of a woman with a colourful past, which she attempts to record before dementia hits and her memory goes. She remains unnamed until near the end. The other strand focuses on Janet Bretherton, a widow who we first met in The English Lady Murderers' Society.

Janet now lives in a small town in Devon where she is starting to make friends and find a way to live on her own. In this novel, as in the previous one, we are offered a selection of older women to get to know, along with Janet. Belle, who Janet met in France is visiting and may become a permanent resident. Christine runs an esoteric bookshop, Sandra works as a psychic, Frieda has a vintage clothes shop and there are three or four others. All these ladies belong to a bookclub and meet regularly.

When a mysterious man is found dead in the river, speculation is rife as to who he might be and who (if anyone) killed him. The bookclub members jokingly suggest they become The Demented Lady Detectives' Club. Janet, a writer of detective novels, takes the idea more seriously and, with Belle's help, tries to work out who the man was and what happened to him. She reasons that the answer to these questions will be the most obvious ones and can therefore be discovered simply from the known facts. She has, however, despite her acquaintance with DI Stephen Gregg, very few facts to go on.

Will Janet discover the murderer before the police do? Will the second narrator, and her shocking secrets, be revealed? And will the relationship between Janet and the much younger DI Gregg go anywhere?

This is a sometimes funny, sometimes serious novel which at times seems like cosy crime. Don't be fooled though – there is a gritty side to it. As is usual with Williams' crime novels, the morality of the crime, the criminal and the justice (which may or may not be dished out) are blurred.

A satisfying and enjoyable read that pokes fun at New Agers in a gentle and affectionate way.

You’ll enjoy this if you like: Detective novels that don’t conform to stereotypes.

Avoid if you dislike: Novels featuring older women.

Ideal accompaniments: A nice cup of tea with a shot of something strong in it.

Genre: Crime / General Fiction.

Available from Amazon

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