The Dog Walker by Lesley Thomson
|The Dog Walker by Lesley Thomson|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The fifth book in Lesley Thomson's The Detective's Daughter series is a good read, with a brilliant sense of atmosphere.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 400||Date: April 2017|
|Publisher: Head of Zeus|
|External links: Author's website|
In January 1987 it was only joggers and dog walkers who went on to the Thames towpath after dark. Estate agent Helen Honeysett left the riverside cottage she shared with her husband and never came home. A neighbour returned their dog who was found wandering, but Helen's body was never discovered. In 2016 Helen's husband, Adam, still wants to know what happened. He has an alibi, albeit a somewhat dubious one, but another neighbour was suspected. Steve Lawson couldn't stand the constant suspicion and drowned himself in the Thames: over the years that came to be accepted as an admission of guilt and even one of his children is certain that he was responsible.
Adam 'wants closure'. He wants 'to move on', but to what we're not quite certain. In an attempt to achieve this he employs Stella Darnell to establish what happened to Helen. Stella is the proprietor of Clean Slate - a cleaning company - but has a reputation as a private detective and she and Jack Harmon are considering setting this up as a business enterprise. Jack's a tube driver and occasional cleaner for Stella, but has a particular sensitivity to things otherworldly. As luck would have it, whilst Stella's detective services have been engaged by Adam at 4 Thames Cottages she's also had a request for someone to clean at 1 Thames Cottages. The cleaning is not of the conventional type though - property developer Natasha Latimer has built a basement under the house but she's now convinced that there's a ghost there. Could it be Helen Honeysett? Jack Harmon moves in to find out what's going on.
Unusually for a row of houses - and not just in London - there are quite a few of the residents from twenty-nine years ago still living there. Of the four original Lawsons, Steve is dead and his daughter, Megan, has moved on, worn down by the feeling that she was responsible for her father's death when she confirmed that she'd seen him go out onto the towpath after the missing estate agent. Lawson was never charged, but he's being linked not only to this murder (as it's assumed to be) but also to the disappearance of missing estate agent Suzy Lamplugh, which had happened some six months before. Daphne Merry and Sybil Lofthouse are still at numbers three and five: both are retired women precious about their privacy. Everyone in that row of houses has their own secrets.
We first met Stella and Jack in The Detective's Daughter and there is a story arc running through the books, but The Dog Walker would read well as a standalone: you get as much background information as you need and there are no spoilers should you choose to go back and read earlier books at a later stage. They're all good reads.
The characters are excellent: Stella is obsessed by cleaning and Jack's simply obsessed. They survive in a world which must seem alien to both of them, but neither have a wide social circle - or even much of one at all. They're perfect for the plot, which is complex and took me completely by surprise - as I was sure that I knew who the killer was and why. Lesley Thomson is excellent at providing red herrings. She also has a real talent for creating an atmosphere of menace: the Thames towpath in winter is a superb setting, but even away from the cottages there's a feeling that there's something deeply wrong, to the extent that I quickly realised that if I read the book late at night I was left with a feeling of deep unease.
You might need to suspend disbelief at the number of times that - in a big city - people are related to each other, or know someone well, but it's a very minor point. It's a book to buy and keep: you might well know the who and the why but there'll be a great deal of pleasure in reading The Dog Walker again just to see how it was done. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
If you'd like to read the books in the order in which they were written, you'll find the list here:
You can read more book reviews or buy The Dog Walker by Lesley Thomson at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Dog Walker by Lesley Thomson at Amazon.com.
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