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Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins

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Buy Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Crime
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: It's easy to say that books are un-put-down-able, but this one genuinely is: I finished reading it at three o'clock this morning. There's a hint of the supernatural, but it's essentially a dmaned good mystery. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: April 2020
Publisher: Quercus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1786485571

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When we first meet Dee she's talking to Nick Law, the new college master. Law's lately of the BBC and he doesn't come with an entirely good reputation: he's a bit of a bully and Dee can sense something of that in their first conversation. She had been planning to return home to Scotland before taking on a new job as a nanny, but somehow she finds herself going to see Mariah, the Danish wife of the master. She's pregnant and looking for help, not with the new baby bit with the master's daughter by his first wife, Ana. Felicity is selectively mute: she does talk to her father, but to no one else. The eight-year-old is grieving for her dead mother and struggling at school.

The process was slow but Dee does build up a relationship with Felicity and gradually she begins to talk to Dee. Nick and Mariah Law are both high achievers, but they have little time for Felicity and time and understanding are what she needs. Dee gives her both, but it's at the expense of her relationship with the master, who would sack Dee without a moment's thought was it not for the pleadings of his wife.

The master's house is some four hundred years old and it comes complete with a priest hole which is in Felicity's bedroom. Law pays a local historian to write a history of the master's house and this brings Dee and Felicity into contact with Linklater, whose quirkiness appeals to Felicity. The three of them explore Oxford's graveyards and tunnels. There's a hint of supernatural but it doesn't (much to my relief) stray into fantasy.

It was a situation which couldn't last and when Dee returns to Oxford after a night away in London it's to find that Felicity has disappeared. Despite the fact that she was clearly in London on her own the police believe that Dee knows more about Felicity's whereabouts than she's letting on.

The characterisation is superb. Dee is middle-aged and we gradually learn that she's obsessed with mathematics, had a baby and that she also has a criminal record, but she's totally devoted to Felicity, who came off the page brilliantly too. Linklater's quirky and totally unphased by Felicity's selective mutism - he just takes her as she is. One of the other great characters is the city of Oxford: you could walk the streets as you read and find that it's brought exquisitely to life. The writing is excellent and I loved this book.

Reviewers often say that a book is un-put-down-able, but this one genuinely is: I finished reading it at three o'clock this morning. The plot is intelligent and twisty: I was very close to the end and still wondering how it would all work out before I realised what had happened. It's very clever and totally satisfying.

It's my first Lucy Atkins book but it certainly won't be my last. I think I'll start with The Other Child.

Buy Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins at Amazon You could get a free audio download of Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins at Amazon.com.

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