I apologise in advance as I am once again sharing a review for Past Secrets and Lies.
“Cosy mysteries” have become a new genre in a very short time. The transition from “classic murder mysteries” to something more distinctive has been a reaction to the gritty, brutal and gory murder mysteries. There are no semi-automatic weapons, mass killings or chainsaws, and the forensic detail is kept palatable and, well, comfortable.
These genteel murder mysteries still make the basic demands on their writers: interesting characters, tight plotting, playing fair with clues, and, most of all, a satisfactory resolution. Indeed, this last point may be a key identifier of a “cosy mystery” in that, as in classical drama, order is restored, and the reader can sleep peacefully.
In this second of her Gardner & Chattaway novels, Barclay further develops her likeable main detecting characters, Craig Gardner and Roo Chattaway, and their quiet town.
The duo follows a simple request to investigate the disappearance of a local factory’s Christmas Club funds and that is one end of the thread that leads them into danger and the ultimate solving of two deaths, one recent and the other decades old.
The book is divided in short chapters, each one with a cliff-hanger that leads the reader further on and creates a good sense of pace even when the detectives aren’t having much success.
Everything is plausible; all the characters are credible – and here is another cosy characteristic: characters are recognisable. In spite of this, Barclay’s are not stereotypes but individuals within the outline of the type. Such characters have inevitable appearances in novels, but, again, it is the skill of the author that raises them above the obvious and makes them memorable.
Past Secrets and Lies is an enjoyable read and is at the top end of the genre. I look forward to the next one.
Past Secrets and Lies is available in Kindle and paperback