The Royal Baths Murder by J R Ellis
|The Royal Baths Murder by J R Ellis|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The fourth book in the DCI Oldroyd series presents a difficult puzzle for the Chief Inspector: how could a murder have been committed in the Royal Baths in Harrogate and the murderer have disappeared when the police arrived? An easy read.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 319||Date: October 2019|
|Publisher: Thomas and Mercer|
|External links: Author's website|
When Damian Penrose was murdered there was no shortage of suspects: he was a deeply unpleasant man. In fact the only surprising thing was that there wasn't more of a queue waiting to do the dirty deed. What was a bit of a headline maker was that Penrose was a crime writer and that he was strangled in the midst of Harrogate's crime writing festival. He went for a swim at the Royal Baths and never returned, his body being found by the receptionist. DCI Jim Oldroyd was the man tasked with investigating the crime. It would not be the only death, and it was only because of the quick actions of his sergeant, Andy Carter, that Oldroyd's was not one of them.
I was born in Harrogate and I go there regularly, so I didn't make any attempt to resist reading The Royal Baths Murder. J R Ellis does a splendid job of bringing the town to life, with nods to the local tourist hotspots such as Bettys Tea Rooms and the Stray. If you know the town at all, you'll be back there as you read. You might even be tempted to go further afield to Brimham Rocks, although I must confess to finding it rather frightening as a child. The first murder takes place in the Royal Baths - the place we all knew as 'the Turkish baths'. Much of the crime writing festival takes place in The White Swan Hotel: locals will realise that this is based on the Old Swan Hotel, most famous for being the place where Agatha Christie was discovered after her disappearance in 1926. What better setting could you have for a murder mystery?
Oldroyd is obviously the star of the show and he's a Yorkshireman through and through. He's also kind, clever and respected by his staff. That doesn't go for all the staff at the Harrogate Police HQ: DI Fenton is a sex pest in need of sorting out. It's the type of abuse which has been going on for decades and it shouldn't be allowed to continue. The women concerned, led by DS Steph Johnson, have their own way of dealing with it and whilst it made me smile I might have wished for a more public reckoning.
The plot is ingenious, although I did find the solution just a little too contrived. In fairness, all the clues are there - and this is a murder at a crime writing festival. I enjoyed the book as an easy, nostalgic read, and I'd certainly want to read the next in the series.
I'd like to thank the publishers for allowing Bookbag to see a review copy.
For more murder in Harrogate we can recommend A Medal for Murder: (Kate Shackleton Mysteries) by Frances Brody or Past Reason Hated by Peter Robinson.
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