Death Comes to Marlow by Robert Thorogood

Today i’m delighted to share my thoughts on the latest book in the Marlow Murder Club series by Robert Thorogood, Death Comes To Marlow. My thanks to publisher HQ for the advance copy via Netgalley. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Netgalley
Release Date: 05 January 2022
Publisher: HQ

About the Book

It’s been an enjoyable and murder-free time for Judith, Suzie and Becks – AKA the Marlow Murder Club – since the events of last year. The most exciting thing on the horizon is the upcoming wedding of Marlow grandee, Sir Peter Bailey, to his nurse, Jenny Page. Sir Peter is having a party at his grand mansion on the river Thames the day before the wedding, and Judith and Co. are looking forward to a bit of free champagne.
But during the soiree, there’s a crash from inside the house, and when the Marlow Murder Club rush to investigate, they are shocked to find the groom-to-be crushed to death in his study.
The study was locked from the inside, so the police don’t consider the death suspicious. But Judith disagrees. As far as she’s concerned, Peter was murdered! And it’s up to the Marlow Murder Club to find the killer before he or she strikes again… 

My Thoughts

I really enjoy this series. It’s fun, it’s fresh and it’s the kind of stereotypically English tale that you can’t help but read it with a smile on your face. The three central characters, crossword puzzle setter Judith, dog walker and newly created radio personality, Suzie, and Vicar’s wife Becks, couldn’t be a more unconventional team, but for some reason they really do just work. Judith loves a good mystery and always manages to pull the other two in, although it has to be said that Suzie really doesn’t need a lot of persuading. In this latest mystery, Judith finds herself invited to attend the pre-wedding party of Sir Peter Bailey. It comes as somewhat of a surprise as she has had no dealing with the man before, but it’s certainly less of a surprise than what comes to pass, as the groom to be soon becomes victim, and the Marlow Murder Club are on hand as witnesses, with a new wonderful, if tragic, mystery to solve.

I love the characters of Judith, Suzie and Becks. Robert Thorogood has created such an unusual, and yet believable, mix of women, all as different and unique as can be and completely compelling to spend time with. Judith is inquisitive, strong, determined and as pushy as can be but can manage subtly and discretion when required. When there is any hint of a mystery, be it a murder or a cryptic set of clues in her local newspaper, she just has to solve it. She defies expectation – naked open air swimming in the Thames being a clear example – and she has the knack of getting under people’s skin so in the end, finding out what she wants to know is inevitable. She has that Jessica Fletcher-esque way of getting into everything, helped by her innate ability to work out even the most cryptic of clues. Suzie, by contrast, is far more of a bull in a china shop in her approach, and yet she is fun, determined and inventive as some of her dog walking antiques attest to. As for Becks, she is the reluctant investigator, someone who would rather be living the quiet life, but whose own skills of observation and perfect recall prove invaluable on more than one occasion. She’s also nursing her own secrets that catch both of her friends unawares. They are absolutely the kind of characters who would make for great TV and the author’s experience in this field really make their personalities pop from the page.

What I enjoy about these books is that it is golden age mystery with a modern twist. Cosy crime that has a brilliant vein of humour threaded throughout it, all twisted around some cracking puzzles and mysteries. In this case it is very much a locked room mystery, the victim, Sir Peter, being found dead in a room where the only key for the very sturdy and very locked door was in his pocket. With new fiancés, disgruntled children and an ex-wife all in the picture, there are any number of suspects but seemingly no opportunities. The characters lead us through the investigation – much to the chagrin of the Police – helping us to discount suspects one by one until there is no-one left. But it has to be one of them … right? With another murder uncovered and the waters getting murkier than Judith’s beloved Thames, the author keeps the reveals until the perfect moment, drip feeding clues and keeping readers, and our protagonists, on their toes.

The author provides a great sense of place, creating that small town vibe that manages to be both upper-middle class but also very everyday. That sense of a community where everyone knows each other and yet it is still possible to keep secrets. From the OTT grandeur of the Bailey residence, to Judith’s cluttered home on the banks of the Thames, or even the dilapidated mid renovation state of Suzie’s house, I could picture everywhere so clearly which really helped in pulling me into the story. With a final reveal worthy of a Marple or Poirot mystery, and a twist that left me very satisfied, this is another fabulous story and one I’m very happy to recommend. Not entirely convinced I’ll be adding Marlow to my must visit list for 2023 mind, but then you can’t have everything.

About the Author

Robert Thorogood is the creator of the hit BBC One TV series Death in Paradise, and he has written a series of spin-off novels featuring detective DI Richard Poole.

He was born in Colchester, Essex. When he was ten years old, he read his first proper novel – Agatha Christie’s Peril at End House – and he’s been in love with the genre ever since.

He now lives in Marlow in Buckinghamshire with his wife, children and two whippets called Wally and Evie.

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