Past Tense by Catherine Aird

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Past Tense by Catherine Aird

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: An engaging story with good characters but the plot suffers from facts being just a little too convenient at times.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: March 2010
Publisher: Allison & Busby
ISBN: 978-0749007645

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Jan Wakefield was surprised to find herself arranging the refreshments for mourners after a funeral, not least because she had never met the deceased and was unaware that her husband was the next of kin. He was working in South America and not expected home for some time. Josephine Short had obviously been a feisty character though. Despite being unmarried she had had a child (at a time when this would have been frowned upon) and amassed a considerable fortune. Her grandson Joe was flying home from Lasserta for the funeral.

Detectives Sloan and Crosby weren't interested in the death of Miss Short, but they were called in when there was a burglary at the nursing home where she died. Nothing seemed to have been stolen but a vase was broken in her room. Sloan wasn't to have much time to concentrate on the case as the body of a young woman was pulled from the river. Was there any connection with the break in – and exactly what was Jan's husband doing on the night the young woman died?

Unusually for me I worked out the name of the murderer and the reason for what was done fairly early on. I suspect that the first was rather obvious and the reasoning appealed to a certain quirkiness in my brain, but it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book. Much of this was down to the character of Jan Wakefield – a sensible woman doing her best in the absence of her husband and I really wanted everything to work out for her. Sloan appealed too – he's a copper's copper with a warm heart. His sidekick, Crosby, annoyed the hell out of me – described by his Superintendent as a man who could cause a problem in an empty room I was moved to think that was the best place to keep him.

The writing put me in mind of Ruth Rendell. It's simple, direct and without any unnecessary padding. The plot is clear and although you might groan that one or two things are just too convenient it's engaging and a relaxing read.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals to you then you might also enjoy Fear in the Cotswolds by Rebecca Tope, By Death Divided (A Thackeray and Ackroyd Mystery) by Patricia Hall and Off Track by Clare Curzon.

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Buy Past Tense by Catherine Aird at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Past Tense by Catherine Aird at


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