“Murder slices through our best-kept secrets”.
Power Fisheries has been a prominent business in Easthaven for generations. Now, with the business gone and both her parents dead, Freddie Power delivers seafood out of her van – she is the local fishmonger. Freddie (Frederica), the eldest child, was thrown out of the family and the business by her father when she ‘came out‘ to him about being a lesbian. She lives alone and is quite lonely. She drives a local widower to mass on Sundays, which assuages her loneliness to a small degree. Then, the man, Rex Lomax, hires a paid companion to drive him about and keep him company.
Rex, and his new companion Tim live in a large manor house which has been converted into flats. We come to meet the various folk who reside in Blacklock House.
Freddie Power is good friends with DI Toni Kemp (both were ‘mermaids’ in the previous novel).
Toni Kemp – now a Detective Inspector with the Sussex Police in Newhaven. There have recently been two sets of rather grisly and devastating murders in the area. Toni Kemp is tasked with the cases. The first involved a man and his son flying kites near the sea. Both were slain. The second was a family of father, mother, and young son having a picnic. All three were slain in the same fashion as the first case. Then, one of the residents of Blacklock House is murdered…
Toni Kemp’s second in command is DS Malcolm Lane. After Freddie, Malcolm is Toni Kemp’s second favourite person.
“…the weight of a secret is calculated by how important it is to the keeper.”
After reading “Death of a Mermaid” two years ago, I was delighted to have the opportunity to revisit some of the characters from that novel. The setting is a seaside town in Sussex called Newhaven. Blacklock House was very well described and I could imagine the atmosphere it would have evoked.
Despite its charming facade, Blacklock House is not a place I would like to live. The neighbours were an eclectic group ranging from the desperate to the odious. The only one I rather liked was Rex Lomax and I wondered why he didn’t get rid of the new companion after week one. The companion, 33 year old Timothy Mew was a self-important, unscrupulous, snob, with absolutely no basis to be so. It is clear that the only reason he applied for the job of companion was so that he could reside at a stately home – where he felt he belonged.
I found this book to be rather character heavy. It took me some time to discern all the various residents of Blacklock House. I would have preferred that more emphasis be placed on Freddie, and on the police investigation led by Toni Kemp.
This book had an Agatha Christie type vibe and felt a tad contrived. The mystery element of the book was well plotted and it had me guessing ‘whodunnit‘ until the end. And yes, I was surprised.
With themes of loneliness, status seeking, extortion, and duplicitous behaviour, this novel has a lot to offer the reader.
This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Head of Zeus via NetGalley.
Publication date: June 9, 2022 Publisher: Head of Zeus
Lesley Thomson grew up in west London. Her first novel, A Kind of Vanishing, won the People’s Book Prize in 2010. Her second novel, The Detective’s Daughter, was a #1 bestseller and the series has sold over 750,000 copies. Lesley divides her time between Sussex and Gloucestershire. She lives with her partner and her dog.
Follow Lesley Thomson on Twitter.