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This fatal beach

Posted by Simon Parke, 03 January 2018, 8.48am

It’s a great honour to have my latest Abbot Peter mystery as Book of the Month for the magnificent Sarum Bookshop.

The Indecent Death of a Madam - which she calls ‘the darkest of the series so far’ - is here reviewed for them by Julia Taylor.

‘Stormhaven, the least TripAdvised bit of beach in Sussex, has another corpse; and the members of the Etiquette Society, who people the list of suspects, are down by one.

One of those still alive is a retired Desert Father.

In this, the darkest of his Abbot Peter murder stories, Simon Parke appears almost, if not entirely, to disconnect his principal protagonist from whatever ties he previously had with God, who is only mentioned twice throughout the book, and then not by Peter himself.

If Peter’s monastic past and presumed vocation are in retreat, if his outline is now more uncertain than in any of the preceding books, he is not alone.

Nowhere, nothing, is what they seemed at first.

Stormhaven is no haven against the storm, rather (Parke’s readers know by now) its very denial of the storm appears to attract them: who would suspect this deed, in this place?

Indeed the town’s worst detritus, the abandoned place of refuge – the asylum - ‘became a crime scene the moment they decided to close it down …’

Parke is, in his own words, an introvert: this is not a story written purely to entertain. The subtext is polemic and the choice of site for the murder is important.

Explicitly or otherwise, most of Parke’s characters have points to make: through their fictional existence he makes his own point.

The feeling in each of them - that the world needs him or her, to put it right - has its roots in their early years, leaving variously poisoned sap in judge, editor, retired Army officer – even Peter, even Tamsin, his Detective Inspector niece.

In the past is also the root cause of the murder itself: it was called Care in the Community.

Not an easy book – none of this series is particularly easy – but if you prefer a whodunnit to have depth, to be more than a clever puzzle, this is for you.’

Do you agree or disagree with Julia’s review?

So why not write your own and send it to me or post it on Amazon?

I’d love to see it.


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