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Cheating The Hangman
Parson Tobias Campion Mystery – Book III
Judith Cutler

Allison and Busby
21 April 2016/ ISBN 9780749017484

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde


Dr Tobias Campion receives a visit from his archdeacon requesting him to cover for a local vicar who has gone abroad to take the cure. Clavercote is nothing like Tobias’s own parish, the villagers being surly and hostile as well as desperately poor and living in squalor. Returning home on Easter morning after giving his service, Tobias comes upon the strange and horrific sight of an unrecognizable man who has been nailed to a tree. Soon it is obvious the villagers want no part of his efforts to discover who the dead man was and who killed him, and his life is in danger.

Set during the Regency, this is the third in the series about Duke’s son, Campion, and his rural parish. If you are used to “Regencies” being largely romantic and/or set in a fashionable city or stately home, then this a change from the usual. Clavercote is the village from hell with its desperate denizens starving in their hovels, ignored by their uninterested masters. The plot itself is easy to guess and could have been a lot more involved: narrator Tobias spends his time getting set upon, staying with friends, visiting his father, and it all gets somewhat repetitive. There is much in the book that is appealing despite the thin plot. Tobias makes a good narrator, and reading about life in unfashionable rural locations at this time is interesting. I don’t know enough about the period to be able to comment on its accuracy, but the author is adept at descriptions. Even when there is nothing much happening, I was entertained enough to keep the pages turning. One to read if you want to see the other side of Regency life.

Reviewed 2016