The TripFiction Book Club July/August ’19 reads ‘A Summer Reunion’ by Fanny Blake
Thriller set in West London and the Cotswolds
21st May 2019
The Playground Murders by Lesley Thomson – thriller set in West London and the Cotswolds
The Playground Murders is the seventh book in Lesley Thomson’s The Detective’s Daughter series. It features the same key characters as the previous six – Stella who runs a cleaning company (Clean Slate) and is a part time private detective, and her partner – Jack – also a part time private detective, but who earns his living as a tube train driver. They are one of the more unlikely, but utterly likeable, partnerships in crime detection.
The book is a time shift one. First it is 1980. Two children were killed in a playground in West London – one at least of them was certainly murdered, the other death was presented as an accident. The investigations at the time were carried out by now-dead Terry, Stella’s father and a detective in the Metropolitan Police. One of the children’s playmates, Danielle, was arrested and found guilty of the crime – sentenced to spend a great deal of the rest of her life in institutions. It was an event that shocked and traumatised the community.
Then it is 2018. The lover of an antiques shop owner in the Cotswolds, who lives in the village of Winchcombe, is brutally murdered in the owner’s house. Suspicion falls on his wife (who has an alibi…) and his daughter – both of whom has reason to want to see her dead. Stella is called is (as Clean Slate) to deep clean the crime scene – but soon, with Jack, becomes involved in trying to solve the mystery.
They find connections between the 1980 crime and the 2018 one. No more for fear of a spoiler!
The Playground Murders is to an extent formulaic, but none the worse for that. Stella and Jack make for comfortable reading. My only criticism is that the denouement is unforeseen and, to my mind, unlikely and contrived. I prefer a thriller where, with luck, you can work out ‘whodunnit’ as you go along. I don’t think this is possible with The Playground Murders. Not that this makes the ending any less exciting… it is personal preference.
In TripFiction location terms the book works well. Both the area around Wormwood Scrubs in West London, and the area around Winchcombe in the Cotswolds come through strongly.
Tony for the TripFiction team
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