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Death at Crookham Hall by Michelle Salter (Book Review)

Cover of the novel "Death at Crookham Hall" by Michelle Salter. The cover is in a cartoonish style. A stylised young woman in a green coat and violet cloche hat stands against a blue background. An imposing yellow building is in the back of the picture.

(Goodreads description)

London, 1920. For the first time ever, two women are competing against each other to become an MP. Reporter Iris Woodmore has a big story on her hands when she accompanies one of the candidates to the House of Commons. But it’s a place that holds painful memories. In 1914, her mother died there when she fell into the River Thames during a daring suffragette protest. Then, in the shadow of Big Ben, a waterman tells Iris her mother didn’t fall – she jumped.

Iris discovers that the suffragette with her mother that fateful day has been missing for six years, mysteriously disappearing just after the protest. Desperate to know the truth behind the fatal jump, Iris’s investigation leads her to Crookham Hall, an ancestral home where secrets and lies lead to murder…

The first book in the Iris Woodmore cozy crime series.

Thursday Quotables Meme

I have the feeling that the author, Michelle Salter, tried to cram a bit too much serious stuff in this book that is, after all, a cosy mystery. The issues she touches on merit attention – domestic violence and civil rights are at the forefront of the narration but as are also environmental and social issues. If you add to this the very prominent suffragettes’ plot and a very gentle LGBT subplot, you might see what I mean when I say that it feels like there’s a bit too much in a single cosy mystery. I did have the feeling that the author was more interested in talking about these different issues than on the character’s stories. In fact, I felt that many characters were there only to present the issue, which may be why I had a hard time connecting with them.

But having said this, the mystery itself was clever, complex enough to entertain, but also quite solid and realistic. Which is always a bonus for me. I did like the twist that occurred after the murder, though I might have been more invested in it if more attention had been given to the characters’ psychology. This is one of my major complaints: the psychology was kind of there, but also it wasn’t, if you know what I mean. The characters’ motives and reactions were realistic, but they were there and that was all. There was not much empathy, and therefore I had a hard time caring, though I felt I should.

Another issue for me was something I often see in this kind of historical cosy mysteries. The characters’ attitudes and behaviours were too modern. Personally, I very much doubt that in the 1920s, a woman – and even the jury and the court – would have been willing to talk about her being raped in these very terms. These were still things that were alluded to rather than talked about. That a character spoke in front of a crowd about having been raped multiple times, really felt unauthentic to me. But hey, it might just be me. I’d love to hear what you think about it.

But these personal issues apart, it was an enjoyable read.

Death at Crookham Hall

Book Excerpt

Pinterest pin. The text reads, "Death at Crookham Hall by Michelle Salter - Book review". The picture is a vintage photo of a 1910s suffragette wearing a white apron over her dress. The apron is covered in slogans in favour of women's rights. She wears a hat with striped ribbons and appears to be chained to a railing. Three smiling boys stand around her.

‘One of your servants went missing in 1914, Miss Rebecca Dent. Have you had any news of her?’

There was a noticeable change in the atmosphere. Daniel’s attention switched back to the room whilst his parents and Constance appeared startled by the question.

Lord Timpso was the first to recover. ‘No, we haven’t. Not a word.’

‘Why do you ask, Mr Whittle?’ Lasy Timpson’s brow creased. ‘Have you heard anything of her?’

Elijah shook his head.

‘Sad business.’ Lord Timpson leant against the mantelpiece. ‘We’ve never been able to find out what happened to Miss Dent. I’m not sure the police paid it the heed they ought, what with the war and all.’

‘It The Walden Herald had existed, we would have publicised it to our readers. Now we have the benefit of a local newspaper, we could try appealing for information,’ Elijah suggested.

Lord Timpson nodded. ‘That’s extremely decent o you.’ His wife looked appalled.

‘Perhaps after the election’s over,’ Elijah said, to Lady Timpson’s relief.

‘We did everything we could to find that wretched woman. That’s how we found out she was a suffragette,’ Lady Timpson muttered in disgust.

‘Mother. There’s nothing wrong with being a suffragette.’ Constance shot me an apologetic look. I wondered how much she knew.

‘She deceived us. We don’t owe her anything.’ Lady Timpson continued. ‘We should let sleeping dogs lie.’

‘I liked Rebecca.’ It was the first time Daniel had spoken, and everyone turned to look at him. ‘I think she’s still alive. She just needed to get away from here.’

A silence followed this odd statement.

The Thursday Quotables  was originally a weekly post created by Lisa Wolf for her book blog Bookshelf Fantasy . It isn’t a weekly post anymore, not even for Lisa, but just like her, I still love to share my favourite reads on Thursdays and I still use the original template which included an excerpt.

NOTE: This blog contains affiliate links (including Amazon links) to the book I independently review. When you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission for advertising the product (at no extra cost to you).

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