Lead review (and the author talks about research of setting)

  • Book: The Dog Walker
  • Location: Kew, London
  • Author: Lesley Thomson

Review Author: tripfiction



The Dog Walker is a classic ‘whodunnit’ murder mystery. Back in 1986, Helen Honeysett sets off along the Kew towpath by the Thames for her nightly run – accompanied by her dog, Baxter. Baxter returns, Helen doesn’t. She is never seen again. The police investigate and question plumber and neighbour, Steve Lawson – who commits suicide by walking into the river. He was (or was he?) having an affair with Helen. Most people believe the culprit was found, and move on with their lives.

fullsizeoutput_2a1fFast forward to 2016. Stella Darnell (daughter of a deceased police officer, head of cleaning agency Clean Slate, and part time private detective) and Jack Harmon (District Line tube driver, cleaner, and part time private detective) are hired to do a deep clean on Number 1 Thames Cottages. They are also charged with getting rid of a ghost, possibly Helen’s, in the property. Number 1 is just three doors down from Number 4 where Helen used to live. Helen’s husband, Adam, finds out about their private detection and asks them to investigate Helen’s death (assuming she is, in fact, dead). He says he needs to find out the truth in order to seek closure for the whole episode – even though he will inevitably become a suspect.

There are other suspects aplenty. Adam was at the time having an affair with Jane Drake – who had every motivation to be rid of Helen. She is still, thirty years on, stalking him. And what about the other inhabitants of Thames Cottages? Could Bette at Number 2, Steve Lawson’s wife, have found out about the affair he was allegedly having – and murdered Helen? Then there is the somewhat sad and strange Daphne Merry at Number 3 – a ‘de-clutterer’ by trade and more than a little obsessive. Or Neville Rowland who was bribed to leave Number 1 (the house Stella and Jack are cleaning) by the new owner, Natasha Latimer. Or Sybil Lofthouse at Number 5, employed at the Stock Exchange in 1986 – and a very private person. Or Brian Judd, who is (or was) a recluse and lives close by. All could be thought to have had a possible grudge against Helen…

Stella and Jack carry out their investigation, and the book moves to a thrilling and, I guess, unexpected conclusion. Unexpected in that you don’t really see it coming – but are not surprised by it. The murderer had to be one of the suspects.

No doubt that Lesley Thomson has created a really exciting read. Twists and turn abound…The book is well observed and written, and (not alway the case with thrillers) there is some good characterisation. Little gems like Stella’s mum…

My only ‘complaint’ is that I found the format a bit difficult. The first half of the book has alternate chapters set in 1986 and 2016. Possibly because I am a bear of very little brain – and given the complexity of the plot – I found it at times quite difficult to be transported back to 1986 (or forward to 2016) and remember exactly where I had been ten pages ago.

All in all, though, The Dog Walker is an excellent addition to the world of English ‘whodunnits’.

On this link to our blog, Lesley talks about her research for the setting

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