Indian Summer: a Mirabelle Bevan Mystery by Sara Sheridan
|Indian Summer: a Mirabelle Bevan Mystery by Sara Sheridan|
|Category: Crime (Historical)|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: Once again Mirabelle takes us into the dark underbelly of Brighton in the 1950s, with peril, excitement and suspense galore.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: May 2019|
|External links: [www.sarasheridan.com Author's website]|
Life has changed dramatically for Mirabelle, our favourite fifties sleuth, since the war, and not always for the better. When she first settled in Brighton she was alone, rudderless and secretly grieving for Jack, the lover who died before he could leave his wife. As time went by she found in herself an ability to solve crimes, made friends including an ebullient and determined young woman called Vesta who refused to let a little thing like racial prejudice stop her doing what she wanted, and even found consolation in the arms of a rather charming policeman.
But as this book, the seventh in the series, opens, we find her almost in the same situation she was in back in 1951. Vesta still works with her full-time at the debt collection agency, but the girl is preoccupied with her new-born son and seems, for a time at least, to have lost some of her spark. The relationship with the policeman is over, and Mirabelle hasn't come up against anything to pique her curiosity in months.
Being at a loose end with little to engage her attention is probably the reason why our heroine notices that the little girl on the beach is being bullied, and why she takes the time to escort her back to the convalescent home. TB was far more common in the fifties than it is now, and children were often sent to the coast to recuperate because sea air was believed to be beneficial. Lali is almost ready to be discharged, but not before she has introduced her new friend to the other children in her ward – and a couple of mysteries. What exactly are the nurses hiding? And why did one of their regular visitors die so horribly, mere hours after he left the sanatorium? It's not long before Mirabelle is on the case, getting herself into one awkward and occasionally near-lethal situation after another – and possibly meeting a new love-interest in the process.
Once again what makes this story stand out is not only the perceptive portrayal of a single woman using her intelligence to defeat criminals, but the era itself. The war is long over in some ways: there are greater freedoms, both in behaviour and relationships, but a woman on her own is still unlikely to be served in a bar, and Mirabelle is treated with, at best, avuncular disdain by the professional crime-solvers. We meet priests, nurses, drab housewives and even the working girls who entertain business men at Brighton's top-end hotels – all trying to move on from the privations and horrors of the past to build happier, more secure lives in the present. It's a lively and varied backcloth which will satisfy the reader just as much as seeing the current batch of villains get what they deserve.
Like all good books this one can be read without the earlier ones in the series, but in many ways it would be a shame as they chart so well the progress of life from post-war austerity at the beginning of the fifties to a return to some semblance of normality. At the very least it's worth starting at the beginning with Brighton Belle and following up with the second, London Calling. By then you'll probably be hooked! And if you fancy another historical crime story with a female detective, have a look at Things in Jars by Jess Kidd. The heroine is more than a little quirky, but the world of the London Irish in the Victorian era is beautifully portrayed in all its crazy, colourful contrasts.
You can read more book reviews or buy Indian Summer: a Mirabelle Bevan Mystery by Sara Sheridan at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Indian Summer: a Mirabelle Bevan Mystery by Sara Sheridan at Amazon.com.
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