Murder at the Old Vicarage by Jill McGown

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Murder at the Old Vicarage by Jill McGown

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Intelligent, intriguing and very readable crime fiction. Superb.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: October 2015
Publisher: Pan
ISBN: 978-1509809639

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The vicar's daughter, Joanna, had mixed feelings when her husband called at the vicarage. The last time she'd seen him his violence had put her in hospital and she'd been living with her parents ever since. She had her reasons for deciding to see him, even though her parents would have preferred just to send him packing. George Wheeler had more problems than his daughter's marriage to worry about: he was strangely attracted to a young widow who had recently come to the parish and also had serious doubts about his vocation. It was only his wife, Marian who stopped the wheels from falling off his life. But Marian was always that sort of woman. Then - on Christmas Eve - his son in law was battered to death with a poker in his daughter's bedroom at the vicarage.

I know that Christmas cards give us images of deep, white snow, but that Christmas in Byford was one of the rare occasions when it really happened and the village was effectively cut off from much of the outside world. Chief Inspector Lloyd (well, it's actually 'Acting Chief Inspector' as he would tell you if you made the mistake) and sergeant Judy Hill have a very limited cast of suspects, despite the fact that the vicar is convinced that it was a passing burglar. It must be down to one of the family or possibly, just possibly, Eleanor Langton, the young widow. There's a further complication too. Judy Hill is married but seems to have no real feelings for her husband and has been having an on-off affair with Lloyd for some time, but Lloyd has reached the stage where he doesn't want to share her - and her husband wants them to start a family.

'Just four suspects?' you'll be thinking. Where's the suspense in that? Isn't it going to be fairly obvious who was on the other end of the poker? Well, no, it isn't. There are more twists, turns and red herrings than you could reasonably expect - and I was still surprised at the denouement. That takes real skill - and it takes even more skill to create characters in whom you can invest and to tell the story in such a way that it's very difficult to put the book down.

Murder at the Old Vicarage (originally published as Redemption) is Jill McGown's homage to Agatha Christie's Murder at the Vicarage. Would it be heresy to say that I preferred this book to the original? I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag - I'm certainly going to be looking out for more Lloyd and Hill mysteries.

For more murder mystery at Christmas we can recommend Murder For Christmas by Francis Duncan.

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Buy Murder at the Old Vicarage by Jill McGown at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Murder at the Old Vicarage by Jill McGown at


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