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Elementary Murder
Lancashire Detective Mystery – Book II
A J Wright

Allison and Busby
20 July 2017 / ISBN 9780749019594

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde  

DS Michael Brennan and his trusty sidekick, Constable Jaggery, are called to investigate a death at Wigan’s George Street Elementary School. Miss Dorothea Gadsworth was applying for a position there as a teacher but was unsuccessful. The next morning the caretaker found her dead in a locked classroom with a suicide note. An open and shut case? Not to Brennan, who soon discovers evidence to make it a murder. With a missing child to hunt for as well it starts to look more sinister…

Last year I reviewed the first in the series Striking Murder and was impressed enough to want to read about Brennan and Jaggery again. The first case painted a grim, gritty picture of Wigan in the bitter winter of 1893, with its striking miners and vast gulf between the rich and poor. A year on and the focus is on the more contained world of a school. But despite its outwardly organized appearance, problems lurk. An old crime from fifteen years earlier resurfaces, and the detectives have to connect this with the dead woman and missing boy in order to discover whodunit and why.

This is a very well plotted book with revelations or mysteries appearing on almost every page, and I couldn’t put it down. The detectives detect and, apart from Brennan’s happy marriage, this is one series that does not mire itself in the sleuths’ personal lives, meaning that this truly is a crime novel rather than a romance or something else. Another point in its favor is the setting, which is not only original but very well described, including plenty of almost tactile descriptions of the mean streets of Wigan. Much as I enjoyed the first book, I liked this one even better, so eagerly await the third in the series. If you like Victorian mysteries check out this series.

Other reviews in this series

Striking Murder #1
Elementary Murder #2
Sitting Murder #3


Reviewed 2017