THE WILD WOOD ENQUIRY

Written by Ann Purser

Review written by Adrian Magson

Adrian Magson is the author of 22 crime and spy thrillers. His next book ‘Rocco and the Nightingale’ (The Dome Press) - the fifth in his French police series set in Picardie in the 1960s, is out on 19 October in h/b, p/b and ebook. More information https://www.adrianmagson.com/


THE WILD WOOD ENQUIRY
BERKELEY PRIME CRIME
RRP: £6.99
Released: 5th July 2012
Pbk

In Ann Purser’s third Ivy Beasley mystery, the main character, described as a cross between Jessica Fletcher, Miss Marple and Mrs Slocum from ‘Are You Being Served’, assembles the Springfield Retirement Home’s Investigative team (known as Enquire Within) to look into a mysterious disappearance. But that’s not until Ivy manages to solve a less urgent vanishing – that of the local shopkeeper’s cat. Having got that one speedily out of the way as a precursor, thereby establishing her credentials, she moves on to the main job – a missing person.

But one of the team - Gus Halfhide - is more closely involved than usual, the missing person being his former wife, Katherine, who has descended on the village and the hapless Gus, only to vanish again just as suddenly. All she leaves behind is an earring and a glimpse of a hand in the undergrowth – a hand which is gone by the time the local police get round to taking a reluctant look.

The outspoken and often cranky Ivy isn’t at all backward in suggesting that Gus might know more than he is saying (he has no love for his ex-wife and wouldn’t even have her staying in the same house as him), temporarily causing a split in the ranks. Also in the frame is a mysterious saxophonist on a short-term job playing with Sid’s Swingers, who is seen in the area of the woods where the hand was seen.

But all is not what it seems, and Gus, who doesn’t believe his ex-wife has come to any harm, decides to go in search of her in Scotland.

High on humour and pithy exchanges between the aged and ageing characters, which only they can get away with without resorting to violence, this is a warm-hearted and well-drawn portrayal of crime in the slow lane, with a good dash of naughtiness (and a spot of skinny-dipping), along with regular bouts of gentle sniping, gossip and tartness.

The Enquire Within team are quirky, funny and impossible to tie down, and Ann Purser’s humour shines through on every page. English village mystery fiction at its best.

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